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by The Princess Der Ling


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Two Years in the Forbidden City

by The Princess Der Ling

April, 1997  [Etext #889]


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TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY
BY THE PRINCESS DER LING




FIRST LADY IN WAITING
TO THE EMPRESS DOWAGER




TO
MY BELOVED FATHER
LORD YU KENG




FOREWORD
THE author of the following narrative has peculiar qualifications
for her task. She is a daughter of Lord Yu Keng, a member of the
Manchu White Banner Corps, and one of the most advanced and
progressive Chinese officials of his generation. Lord Yu Keng
entered the army when very young, and served in the Taiping
rebellion and the Formosan war with France, and as Vice Minister
of War during the China-Japan war in 1895. Later he was Minister
to Japan, which post he quitted in 1898 to become President of the
Tsung-li-yamen (Chinese Foreign Office). In 1899 he was appointed
Minister to France, where he remained four years. At a period when
the Chinese Government was extremely conservative and reactionary,
Lord Yu Keng labored indefatigably for reform. He was instrumental
in reorganizing China's postal service on modern lines, but failed
in efforts to revise the revenue system and modernize the army and
navy, from being ahead of his times. He died in 1905.  The
progressive spirit of Lord Yu Keng was shown in the education of
his children. When it became known that his daughters were
receiving a foreign education--then an almost unheard--of
proceeding among high Manchu officials-attempts were made to
impeach him as pro-foreign and revolutionary, but he was not
deterred. His children got their early education in missionary
schools, and the daughters later attended a convent in France,
where the author of this work finished her schooling and entered
society. On returning to China, she became First Lady-in-Waiting
to the Empress Dowager, and while serving at the Court in that
capacity she received the impressions which provide the
subject-matter of this book. Her opportunity to observe and
estimate the characteristics of the remarkable woman who ruled
China for so long was unique, and her narrative throws a new light
on one of the most extraordinary personalities of modern times. 
While on leave from her duties to attend upon her father, who was
fatally ill in Shanghai, Princess Der Ling took a step which
terminated connexion with the Chinese Court. This was her
engagement to Mr. Thaddeus C. White, an American, to whom she was
married on May 21, 1907. Yielding to the urgent solicitation of
friends, she consented to put some of her experiences into
literary form, and the following chronicle, in which the most
famous of Chinese women, the customs and atmosphere of her Court
are portrayed by an intimate of the same race, is a result.       
THOMAS F. MILLARD.            SHANGHAI, July 24, 1911.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER 
                                     
I.     INTRODUCTORY
II.    AT THE PALACE
III.   A PLAY AT THE COURT
IV.    A LUNCHEON WITH THE EMPRESS
V.     AN AUDIENCE WITH THE EMPRESS
VI.    IN ATTENDANCE ON HER MAJESTY
VII.   SOME INCIDENTS OF THE COURT
VIII.  THE COURT LADIES
IX.    THE EMPEROR KWANG HSU
X.     THE YOUNG EMPRESS
XI.    OUR COSTUMES
XII.   THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER
XIII.  THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT
XIV.   THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY
XV.    THE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL
XVI.   THE SUMMER PALACE
XVII.  THE AUDIENCE HALL 
XVIII. THE NEW YEAR FESTIVALS 
XIX.   THE SEA PALACE
XX. CONCLUSION



TWO YEARS IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY


MY father and mother, Lord and Lady Yu Keng, and family, together
with our suite consisting of the First Secretary, Second
Secretary, Naval and Military Attaches, Chancellors, their
families, servants, etc.,--altogether fifty-five people,--arrived
in Shanghai on January 2, 1903, on the S.S. "Annam" from Paris,
where for four years my father had been Chinese Minister. Our
arrival was anything but pleasant, as the rain came down in
torrents, and we had the greatest difficulty getting our numerous
retinue landed and safely housed, not to mention the tons of
baggage that had to be looked after. We had found from previous
experience that none of our Legation people or servants could be
depended upon to do anything when travelling, in consequence of
which the entire charge devolved upon my mother, who was without
doubt the genius of the party in arranging matters and
straightening out difficulties.

When the launch from the steamer arrived at the jetty off the
French Bund, we were met by the Shanghai Taotai (the highest
official in the city), the Shanghai Magistrate and numerous other
officials, all dressed in their official robes. The Taotai told my
father that he had prepared the Tien Ho Gung (Temple of the Queen
of Heaven) for us to reside in during our stay in Shanghai, but my
father refused the offer, saying that he had telegraphed from Hong
Kong and made all arrangements to go to the Hotel des Colonies in
the French Concession. We had had previous experience staying in
this temple while on our way to Japan, where my father went as
Minister in 1895, and did not care to try it a second time. The
building is very old and very much out of repair. It was a
beautiful place in its prime, but had been allowed to go to rack
and ruin. The custom is that the magistrate has to find a place
and supply the food, etc., for high officials when passing
through, and it is not exactly the thing to refuse their kind
offer, but my father was always very independent and politely
declined all proffers of assistance.

At last we did safely arrive in the Hotel des Colonies, where my
father found awaiting him two telegrams from the Imperial Palace.
These telegrams ordered my father to go to Peking at once, but, as
the river to Tientsin was frozen, it was out of the question for
us to go by that route, and as my father was very old and quite
ill at that time, in fact constantly under the doctor's care, the
only accessible way, via Chinwangtao, was equally out of the
question, as it was a long and most tedious journey and quite
beyond his strength. In view of all these difficulties, he
telegraphed that, after the ice had broken up in the Peiho River,
we would come by the first steamer leaving Shanghai for Tientsin.

We left Shanghai on the 22d of February and arrived at Tientsin on
the 26th, and, as before, were met by the Customs Taotai of the
port and numerous other officials (the same as when we arrived at
Shanghai).

There is a very curious custom of reverence, which must be
performed by all high officials on their return from abroad.
Immediately upon landing on the shores of China, arrangements are
made with the nearest Viceroy or Governor to receive their
obeisance to Ching Sheng An (to worship the Emperor of Peace), a
Taotai being considered of too low a rank for such an honor. As
soon as we arrived, Yuan Shih Kai, who was then Viceroy of Chihli
Province at Tientsin, sent an official to my father to prepare the
time and place for this function, which is an extremely pretty
one. When arrangements had been made, both my father and Yuan Shih
Kai dressed in their full ceremonial robes, which is the dragon
long robe, with a reddish black three-quarter length coat over it,
chao chu (amber beads), hat with peacock feather and red coral
button, and repaired at once to the Wan Shou Kung (10,000 years
palace), which is especially built for functions of this kind,
where they were met by a large number of officials of the lower
grades. At the back centre of this Temple, or Palace, stands a
very long narrow table on which are placed the tablets of the
Emperor and Empress Dowager, on which is written, "Wan sway, wan
sway, wan wan sway" (10,000 years times 10,000 years times 10,000
10,000 years). The Viceroy, or in this case Yuan Shih Kai, and the
other officials arrived first. Yuan stood at the left side of this
table and the others arranged themselves in two diminishing lines
starting from the front corners of the table. Soon afterward my
father came and knelt directly in front of the centre of the table
and said, "Ah ha Ching Sheng An" (Your servant gives you
greeting). After this ceremony was over my father immediately
arose and inquired after Their Majesties' health, and Yuan replied
that they were quite well. This closed the function.

We stayed in Tientsin for three days, arriving in Peking on the
twenty-ninth. My father's condition was much worse and he begged
for four months' leave of absence, in which to recuperate, which
was granted by Her Majesty, the Empress Dowager. As our beautiful
mansion, which we had built and furnished just before leaving for
Paris, was burned during the Boxer Rising of 1900, entailing a
loss of over taels 100,000, we rented and moved into a Chinese
house. Our old house was not entirely new. When we bought the
place there was a very fine but old Chinese house, the palace of a
Duke, standing on the ground, and by some clever re-arrangement
and building on, it was transformed into a beautiful foreign style
house with all the fine hardwood carving of the old house worked
into it. By using the words "foreign style," it is meant that, in
so far as the Chinese house could be made to look like a foreign
house, without tearing it down entirely, it was changed, that is
the doors and windows, passageways, furnishings, etc., were
foreign, but the arrangement of the house itself and courtyard was
Chinese. This, like all Chinese houses in Peking, was built in a
very rambling fashion, and with the gardens, covered about ten
acres of ground. We had just finished furnishing it and moved in
only four days when we left for Paris; and it has always been a
great sorrow to my family that we should lose this magnificent
place, after having spent so much time and money in building and
beautifying it. However, this is only one of the many trials that
a high official in China is called upon to bear.

The houses in Peking are built in a very rambling fashion,
covering a large amount of ground, and our former house was no
exception to the rule. It had sixteen small houses. one story
high, containing about 175 rooms, arranged in quadrangles facing
the courtyard, which went to make up the whole; and so placed,
that without having to actually go out of doors, you could go from
one to the other by verandas built along the front and enclosed in
glass. My reader will wonder what possible use we could make of
all of these rooms; but what with our large family, numerous
secretaries, Chinese writers, messengers, servants, mafoos
(coachmen), and chair coolies, it was not a difficult task to use
them.

The gardens surrounding the houses were arranged in the Chinese
way, with small lakes, stocked with gold fish, and in which the
beautiful lotus flower grew; crossed by bridges; large weeping
willows along the banks; and many different varieties of flowers
in prettily arranged flower beds, running along winding paths,
which wound in and out between the lakes. At the time we left for
Paris, in the month of June, 1899, the gardens were a solid mass
of flowers and foliage, and much admired by all who saw them.

As we now had no place of our own in Peking we did not know where
to go, so, while we were at Tientsin, my father telegraphed to one
of his friends to find him a house. After some little trouble one
was secured, and it turned out to be a very famous place indeed.
It was the house where Li Hung Chang signed the treaties with the
Foreign Powers after the Boxer Rising and also where he died. We
were the first people to live there since the death of Li Hung
Chang, as the Chinese people were very superstitious and were
afraid that, if they went there to live, something dreadful would
happen to them. We soon made ourselves very comfortable, and while
we lived there, none of the dreadful things happened to us that
all of our good friends told us would be visited upon us if we
dared to take this place. However, in view of our having lost our
place by fire, I am inclined to think that their fears were well
founded.

The loss sustained by having this house burned we never recovered,
as my father, being an official of the Government, it would have
been very bad form to have tried to recover this money, besides a
possible loss of standing, as Government officials are supposed
never to consider themselves or families in the service of their
country, and any private losses in the service must be borne
without complaint.

On the first of March, 1903, Prince Ching and his son, Prince Tsai
Chen, came to see us and told us that Her Majesty wished to see my
mother, my sister, and myself at once; that we should be at the
Summer Palace (Wan Shou Shan) at six o'clock the following
morning. My mother told Prince Ching that we had been wearing
foreign clothes all these years, while abroad, and had no suitable
Manchu clothes to wear. He replied that he had told Her Majesty
all about us and also mentioned that he had seen us in European
attire and she had said that it would not be necessary for us to
wear Manchu costume to go to the Palace, that she would be glad to
have us wear foreign clothes, as it would give her an opportunity
to study the foreign way of dressing. Both my sister and myself
had a very difficult time deciding what we should wear for this
occasion; she wished to wear her pale blue velvet gown, as she
thought that color suited her the best. My mother had always made
us dress exactly alike, ever since we were little girls. I said
that I preferred to wear my red velvet gown, as I had the idea it
might please Her Majesty. After a long discussion I had my way. We
had lovely red hats trimmed with plumes and the same color shoes,
and stockings to match. My mother wore a lovely gown of sea green
chiffon cloth embroidered with pale mauve iris and trimmed with
mauve velvet; she wore her large black velvet hat with long white
plumes.

As we lived in the central part of the city and the only means of
travel was by sedan chair and the distance from our house to the
Palace was about thirty-six Chinese li (a three-hour ride), we had
to start at three o'clock in the morning, in order to be there at
six. As this was our first visit to the Palace, Prince Ching's
message threw us into a great state of excitement, and we were
naturally anxious to look our best and to be there on time. It had
been the dream of my life to go to the Palace and see what it was
like, and up to this time I had never had an opportunity, as most
of my life had been spent out of Peking,--in fact, out of China.
Another reason why this chance had never come before was, that my
father had never registered our names (my sister and myself) in
the Government book for the registration of births of Manchu
children, in consequence of which the Empress Dowager did not know
until we came back from Paris that Lord Yu Keng had any daughters.
My father told me the reason why he did not put our names in this
book was, that he wished to give us the best education obtainable,
and the only way he could do it was not to let the Empress Dowager
know. Besides this, according to the Manchu custom, the daughters
of all Manchu officials of the second rank and above, after
reaching the age of fourteen years, should go to the Palace, in
order that the Emperor may select them for secondary wives if he
so desires, and my father had other plans and ambitions for us. It
was in this way that the late Empress Dowager was selected by the
Emperor Hsien Feng.

(comment: li is 1/3 mile or 1/2 km)

 We started at three o'clock that morning in total darkness riding
in four coolie sedan chairs, one on each side of the chair. In
going such a long distance it was necessary to have two relays of
chair coolies. This meant twenty-four coolies for the three
chairs, not counting an extra coolie for each chair who acted as a
sort of head chair bearer. Besides this there were three military
officers on horses, one for each chair and two servants riding at
the back of each chair. In addition there were three big Chinese
carts following behind for the chair coolies to ride in and rest.
This made a cavalcade consisting of fortyfive men, nine horses and
three carts.

I had a rather nervous feeling riding along in the chair
surrounded by inky blackness, with nothing to relieve the
stillness of the night but the rough voices of the chair bearers
calling back and forth to each other to be careful of stones and
holes in the road, which was very uneven, and the clump, clump of
the horses. To my readers who have never had the experience of
riding a long distance in a sedan chair I would say that it is a
most uncomfortable conveyance, as you have to sit perfectly still
and absolutely straight, otherwise the chair is liable to upset.
This ride was a very long one and I felt quite stiff and tired by
the time I reached the Palace gates.



CHAPTER TWO

AT THE PALACE

 WHEN we reached the City gates, which were about half way between
our house and the Summer Palace, they were wide open for us to
pass. This quite surprised us, as all gates are closed at seven
o'clock in the evening and are not opened except on special
occasions until daylight. We inquired of the guard why this was,
and were told that orders had been given for the gates to be
opened for us to pass. The officials who had charge were standing
in a double line dressed in full official dress and saluted us as
we passed.

It was still quite dark when we had passed through the gate and I
thought of the many experiences of my short life; but this was by
far the strangest of them all. I wondered what Her Majesty would
be like and whether she would like me or not. We were told that
probably we would be asked to stay at the Court, and I thought
that if that came to pass, I would possibly be able to influence
Her Majesty in favor of reform and so be of valuable assistance to
China. These thoughts made me feel happy and I made up my mind
then and there that I would do all I could and use any influence I
might have in the future towards the advancement of China and for
her welfare. While I was still dreaming of these pleasant
prospects, a faint red line appeared on the horizon heralding the
coming of a most perfect day, and so it proved. As the light grew
brighter and I could distinguish objects, a very pretty view
gradually opened to me, and as we came nearer to the Palace I
could see a high red wall which zigzagged from hill to hill and
enclosed the Palace grounds. The tops of the wall and buildings
were covered with yellow and green tiles and made a most dazzling
picture in the bright sunlight. Pagodas of different sizes and
styles were passed, and when we arrived at the village of Hai
Tien, about four li from the Palace gates, we were told by the
officers we only had a short distance further to go. This was good
news, as I began to think we would never get there. This village
was quite a pretty country place of one-story houses built of
brick, which were very neat and clean as are most of the houses in
the northern part of China. The children trouped out to see the
procession pass, and I heard one remark to another: "Those ladies
are going to the Palace to become Empresses," which amused me very
much.

Soon after leaving Hai Tien we came to a pai lou (archway), a very
beautiful piece of old Chinese architecture and carved work, and
from here got our first view of the Palace gates, which were about
100 yards ahead. These gates are cut into the solid wall
surrounding the Palace and consist of one very large gate in the
center and two smaller ones on each side. The center gate is only
opened when their Majesties pass in and out of the Palace. Our
chairs were set down in front of the left gate, which was open.
Outside of these gates, at a distance of about 500 yards, were two
buildings where the guard stayed at night.

Just as we arrived I saw a number of officials talking excitedly,
and some of them went into the gate shouting "Li la, doula" (have
come, have arrived). When we got out of our chairs, we were met by
two eunuchs of the fourth rank (chrystal button and feather). This
feather which is worn by eunuchs of the fourth rank, comes from a
bird called the magh (horse-fowl) which is found in Szechuen
Province. They are grey and are dyed black, and are much wider
than the peacock feather. These two eunuchs were accompanied by
ten small eunuchs carrying yellow silk screens, which they placed
around our chairs when we alighted. It appeared that Her Majesty
had given orders that these screens (huang wai mor) should be
brought to us. This is considered a great honor. They were ten
feet long and twenty feet high and were held by two eunuchs.

These two eunuchs of high rank were extremely polite and stood at
each side of the gate and invited us to enter. Passing through
this gate we came into a very large paved courtyard about three
hundred feet square, in which there were a great many small flower
beds and old pine trees from which hung all kinds of birds in
cages. On the side opposite to the gates we had entered was a red
brick wall with three gates exactly like the others; on the right
and left side were long rows of low buildings each containing
twelve rooms, used as waiting rooms. The courtyard was full of
people dressed in official robes of the different ranks, and,
after the Chinese fashion, all seemed to be very busy doing
nothing. When they saw us they stood still and stared. The two
eunuchs who were showing us the way conducted us to one of these
rooms. This room was about twenty feet square, just ordinarily
furnished in black wood furniture with red cloth cushions and silk
curtains hanging from the three windows. We were not in this room
more than five minutes when a gorgeously dressed eunuch came and
said: "Imperial Edict says to invite Yu tai tai (Lady Yu) and
young ladies to wait in the East side Palace." On his saying this,
the two eunuchs who were with us knelt down and replied "Jur"
(Yes). Whenever Her Majesty gives an order it is considered an
Imperial Edict or command and all servants are required to kneel
when any command is transmitted to them the same as they would if
in Her Majesty's presence, Then they told us to follow them and we
went through another left gate to another courtyard laid out
exactly the same as the former, except that the Ren Shou Dien
(audience hall) is situated on the north side and the other
buildings were a little larger. The eunuchs showed us into the
east side building, which was beautifully furnished with reddish
blackwood exquisitely carved, the chairs and tables covered with
blue satin and the walls hung with the same material. In different
parts of the room were fourteen clocks of all sizes and shapes. I
know this, for I counted them.

In a little while two servant girls came and waited on us and told
us that Her Majesty was dressing and that we were to wait a little
time. This little time proved to be a matter of more than two
hours and a half, but as this is considered nothing in China, we
did not get impatient. From time to time eunuchs came and brought
milk to drink and about twenty or more dishes of various kinds of
food which Her Majesty sent. She also sent us each a gold ring
with a large pearl in the center. Later the chief eunuch, Li Lien
Ying, came dressed in his official clothes. He was of the second
rank and wore a red button and peacock feather and was the only
eunuch that was ever allowed to wear the peacock feather. He was a
very ugly man, very old and his face was full of wrinkles; but he
had beautiful manners and said that Her Majesty would receive us
in a little while, and brought us each a jade ring which she had
sent us. We were very much surprised that she should give us such
beautiful presents before she had even seen us, and felt most
kindly disposed toward her for her generosity.

Soon after Li Lien Ying had gone, two court ladies, daughters of
Prince Ching, came in and asked the eunuchs who were attending us
if we could speak Chinese, which we thought a great joke. I was
the first one to speak, and told them of course we could speak our
own language, although we knew several others. They were very much
surprised and said: "Oh! how funny, they can talk the language as
well as we do." We in turn were very much surprised to find such
ignorant people in the Imperial Palace and concluded that their
opportunities for acquiring knowledge were very limited. Then they
told us Her Majesty was waiting to receive us, and we went
immediately.

After walking through three courtyards very similar to those we
had previously passed through, we came to a magnificent building
just one mass of exquisite carving. Large lanterns made of buffalo
horns hung all over the veranda covered with red silk from which
red silk tassels were hanging and from each of these tassels was
suspended a beautiful piece of jade. There were two smaller
buildings flanking this large one, also one mass of carvings and
hung with lanterns.

At the door of the large building we met a lady, dressed the same
as Prince Ching's daughters, with the exception that she had a
phoenix in the center of her headdress which distinguished her
from the others. This lady came out to meet us, smiling, and shook
hands with us in the most approved foreign fashion. We were told
later that this was the Young Empress, wife of the Emperor Kwang
Hsu. She said: "Her Majesty has sent me to meet you," and was very
sweet and polite, and had beautiful manners; but was not very
pretty. Then we heard a loud voice from the hall saying, "Tell
them to come in at once." We went into this hall immediately and
saw an old lady dressed in a beautiful yellow satin gown
embroidered all over with pink peonies, and wearing the same kind
of headdress with flowers on each side made of pearls and jade, a
pearl tassel on the left side and a beautiful phoenix in the
center made of purest jade. Over her gown she wore a cape, the
most magnificent and costly thing I ever saw. This cape was made
of about three thousand five hundred pearls the size of a canary
bird's egg, all exactly alike in color and perfectly round. It was
made on the fish net pattern and had a fringe of jade pendants and
was joined with two pure jade clasps. In addition to this Her
Majesty wore two pairs of pearl bracelets, one pair of jade
bracelets, several jade rings and on her third and little fingers
of her right hand she wore gold finger nail protectors about three
inches long and on the left hand two finger nail protectors made
of jade and about the same length. Her shoes were trimmed with
small tassels made of pearls and embroidered with tiny pieces of
different colored jade.

Her Majesty stood up when she saw us and shook hands with us. She
had a most fascinating smile and was very much surprised that we
knew the Court etiquette so well. After she had greeted us, she
said to my mother: "Yu tai tai (Lady Yu), you are a wonder the way
you have brought your daughters up. They speak Chinese just as
well as I do, although I know they have been abroad for so many
years, and how is it that they have such beautiful manners?"
"Their father was always very strict with them," my mother
replied; "he made them study their own language first and they had
to study very hard." "I am pleased to hear their father has been
so careful with them," Her Majesty said, "and given them such a
fine education." She took my hands and looked into my face and
smiled and kissed me on both cheeks and said to my mother: "I wish
to have your daughters and hope they will stay with me." We were
very much pleased at this and thanked her for her kindness. Her
Majesty asked all sorts of questions about our Paris gowns and
said we must wear them all the time, as she had very little chance
to see them at the Court. She was particularly in love with our
Louis XV high heel shoes. While we were talking to her we saw a
gentleman standing at a little distance and after a while she
said, "Let me introduce you to the Emperor Kwang Hsu, but you must
call him Wan Sway Yeh (Master of 10,000 years) and call me Lao Tsu
Tsung (the Great Ancestor)." His Majesty shyly shook hands with
us. He was a man about five feet, seven inches in height, very
thin, but with very strong features; high nose and forehead,
large, brilliant black eyes, strong mouth, very white, even teeth;
altogether good looking. I noticed he had a very sad look,
although he was smiling all the time we were there. At this
juncture the head eunuch came, knelt down on the marble floor and
announced that Her Majesty's chair was ready and she asked us to
go with her to the Audience Hall, distant about two minutes' walk,
where she was going to receive the heads of the different Boards.
It was a beautiful day and her open chair was waiting. This chair
is carried by eight eunuchs all dressed in official robes, a most
unusual sight. The head eunuch walked on her left side and the
second eunuch on her right side, each with a steadying hand on the
chair pole. Four eunuchs of the fifth rank in front and twelve
eunuchs of the sixth rank walked behind. Each eunuch carried
something in his hand, such as Her Majesty's clothes, shoes,
handkerchiefs, combs, brushes, powder boxes, looking glasses of
different sizes, perfumes, pins, black and red ink, yellow paper,
cigarettes, water pipes, and the last one carried her yellow
satin-covered stool. Besides this there were two amahs (old women
servants) and four servant girls all carrying something. This
procession was most interesting to see and made one think it a
lady's dressing room on legs. The Emperor walked on Her Majesty's
right and the Young Empress on the left, as did also the Court
ladies.

The Audience Hall was about two hundred feet long by about one
hundred and fifty feet wide, and at the left side was a long table
covered with yellow satin. When Her Majesty came down from the
chair she went into the Hall and mounted her throne just behind
this table, and His Majesty mounted a smaller one at her left
side, the Ministers all kneeling on the floor in front of her and
on the opposite side of the table.

At the back of the Hall was a large dais about twenty feet long by
about eighteen feet wide, enclosed by a magnificently carved
railing about two feet high running all the way round, open only
in the front in two places just large enough for a person to pass
through. These two openings were reached by a flight of six steps.
At the back of this dais was a small screen and immediately in
front of this, in the center, was Her Majesty's throne.
Immediately behind was an immense carved wood screen, the most
beautiful thing I ever saw, twenty feet long by ten feet high. In
front of Her Majesty's throne was a long narrow table. At the left
side was a smaller throne for the Emperor.

The theme of the carving and furnishings of this dais was the
phoenix and peony most exquisitely carved in ebony wood, in fact
the theme of the entire room was the same. On each side of Her
Majesty's throne were two upright ebony poles on the top of which
were peacock feathers made into the shape of a fan The upholstery
was entirely of yellow Chinese velvet.

Just before Her Majesty took her seat on her throne she ordered us
to go behind this screen with the Young Empress and the Court
ladies. This we did, and could hear the conversation between Her
Majesty and the Ministers very plainly, and as my readers will see
later, I made good use of this.



CHAPTER THREE

A PLAY AT THE COURT

 THIS day to me was a medley of brilliant impressions. I was a
great novelty among these exclusive Court ladies, brought up
rigidly apart from foreign life and customs, and I was subjected
to a rapid fire of questions. I soon found that these women were
the same as others the world over in point of curiosity and love
of gossip. The fourth daughter of Prince Ching (Sze Gurgur), a
young widow and a strikingly handsome woman, spoke to me. "Were
you brought up in Europe and educated?" she asked. "I am told that
when people go to that country and drink the water there, they
quickly forget their own country. Did you really study to acquire
all those languages or was it drinking the water that gave them to
you?" I mentioned that I met her brother, Prince Tsai Chen, in
Paris on his way to London for the coronation of King Edward, and
that we should have liked to have gone also, as my father had a
special invitation, but were prevented from doing so by his urgent
duties in Paris in settling the Yunnan question, to which the
Princess replied: "Is there a king in England? I had thought that
our Empress Dowager was Queen of the world." Her sister, wife of
the brother of the Young Empress, a most intelligent, quiet and
dignified lady, stood by smiling and listening to the eager
questions. After numerous questions had been asked the Young
Empress finally said: "How ignorant you are. I know that each
country has its ruler and that some countries are republics. The
United States is a republic and very friendly toward us, but I am
sorry that such a common class of people go there, as they will
think we are all the same. What I should like to see is some of
our good Manchu people go, as then they would see what we really
are." She afterwards told me she had been reading a history of the
different countries, which had been translated into Chinese, and
she seemed to be very well informed.

After the Audience was over, Her Majesty called us out from behind
the screen and told us to go with her to see the theatre. She
said, as it was such a beautiful day, she preferred to walk, so we
started, walking a little behind her, as is the custom. Along the
way she pointed out from time to time different places and things
that were her particular favorites, and as she had to keep turning
around all the time, she finally told us to come and walk
alongside of her. This, as I afterwards found out, was a great
condescension on her part and a thing that she very seldom ever
did. She, like everybody else, had her pets and hobbies, such as
flowers, trees, plants, dogs, horses, etc., and there was one dog
in particular that was her favorite pet. This dog was with Her
Majesty always and followed her wherever she went, and a more
homely dog I never saw. It had absolutely nothing to recommend it
in any way. Her Majesty thought it beautiful, and called it Shui
Ta (Sea Otter).

A short distance from the Audience Hall we came to a large
courtyard. On each side of this courtyard were two immense baskets
fifteen feet in height, built of natural logs and literally
covered with purple wisteria. They were simply gorgeous and great
favorites of Her Majesty. She was always very proud of them when
in bloom and took great delight in showing them to the people.

From this courtyard we entered a sort of passageway which ran
along the sides of a big hill and led directly to the theatre,
where we soon arrived. This theatre is quite unlike anything that
you can imagine. It is built around the four sides of an open
courtyard, each side being separate and distinct. The building has
five stories. It is entirely open on the front and has two stages,
one above the other. The three top stories are used for holding
the drops and for store rooms. The stage on the first floor is of
the ordinary kind; but that on the second floor is built to
represent a temple and used when playing religious plays, of which
Her Majesty was very fond.

On the two sides were long, low buildings with large verandas
running their entire length, where the Princes and Ministers sat
when invited by Her Majesty to witness the play. Directly opposite
this stage was a spacious building, containing three large rooms,
which was used exclusively by Her Majesty. The floor was raised
about ten feet above the ground, which brought it on a level with
the stage. Large glass windows ran along in front, so made that
they could be removed in the summer and replaced with pale blue
gauze screens. Two of these rooms were used as sitting rooms and
the third, the one on the right, she used as a bedroom, and it had
a long couch running across the front, on which she used to sit or
lie according to her mood. This day she invited us to go to this
room with her. Later I was told that she would very often come to
this room, look at the play for a while and then take her siesta.
She could certainly sleep soundly, for the din and noise did not
disturb her in the least. If any of my readers have ever been to a
Chinese theatre, they can well imagine how difficult it would be
to woo the God of Sleep in such a pandemonium.

As soon as we were in this bedroom the play commenced. It was a
religious play called "The Empress of Heaven's Party or Feast to
all the Buddhist Priests to eat her famous peaches and drink her
best wine." This party or feast is given on the third day of the
third moon of each year.

The first act opens with a Buddhist Priest, dressed in a yellow
coat robe with a red scarf draped over his left shoulder,
descending in a cloud from Heaven to invite all the priests to
this party. I was very much surprised to see this actor apparently
suspended in the air and actually floating on this cloud, which
was made of cotton. The clever way in which they moved the
scenery, etc., was most interesting, and before the play was
finished I concluded that any theatre manager could well take
lessons from these people; and it was all done without the
slightest bit of machinery.

As this Buddhist Priest was descending, a large pagoda began to
slowly rise from the center of the stage in which was a buddha
singing and holding an incense burner in front of him. Then four
other smaller pagodas slowly rose from the four corners of the
stage, each containing a buddha the same as the first. When the
first Buddhist Priest had descended, the five buddhas came out of
the pagodas, which immediately disappeared, and walked about the
stage, still singing. Gradually from the wing came numbers of
buddhas singing until the stage was full, and they all formed into
a ring. Then I saw a large lotus flower, made of pink silk, and
two large green leaves appearing from the bottom of the stage, and
as it rose the petals and leaves gradually opened and I saw a
beautiful lady buddha (Goddess of Mercy) dressed all in white
silk, with a white hood on her head, standing in the center of
this flower. As the leaves opened I saw a girl and a boy in the
center of them. When the petals of the lotus flower were wide open
this lady buddha began to gradually ascend herself, and as she
ascended, the petals closed until she seemed to be standing on a
lotus bud. The girl standing in the leaf on the Goddess' right
side held a bottle made of jade and a willow branch. The legend of
this is that if the Goddess dips the willow branch into the jade
bottle and spreads it over a dead person it will bring the person
to life. The boy and the girl are the two attendants of the
buddha.

Finally the three came down from the flower and leaves and joined
the rest of the buddhas. Then the Empress of Heaven came, a good
old lady with snow-white hair, dressed from head to foot in
Imperial yellow, followed by many attendants, and ascended the
throne, which was in the center of the stage, and said: "We will
go to the banquet hall." This ended the first scene.

The second scene opened with tables set for the feast to be given
by the Empress of Heaven. These tables were loaded down with
peaches and wine and four attendants guarding them. Suddenly a bee
came buzzing near and scattered a powder under the nostrils of the
attendants, which made them sleepy. When they had fallen asleep,
this bee transformed itself into a big monkey and this monkey ate
all the peaches and drank all the wine. As soon as he had finished
he disappeared.

A blast of trumpets announced the coming of the Empress of Heaven
and she soon arrived accompanied by all the Buddhist Priests and
their attendants. When the Empress of Heaven saw all the peaches
and wine had disappeared, she woke the attendants and asked them
why they were asleep and where the peaches and wine had gone. They
said that they did not know, that they were waiting for her to
come and fell asleep. Then one of the guests suggested that she
should find out what had become of the feast, and attendants were
sent out to the guard to find out from the soldiers if anyone had
gone out of the gate recently. Before the messenger had time to
return, the Guard of Heaven came and informed the Empress that a
big monkey, who was very drunk and carrying a big stick, had just
gone out of the gate. When she was told this, she ordered the
soldiers of heaven and several buddhas to go and find him at his
place. It seems that this monkey had originally been made from a
piece of stone and lived in a large hole in a mountain on the
earth. He was endowed with supernatural powers and could walk on
the clouds. He was allowed to come to heaven and the Empress of
Heaven gave him a position looking after the Imperial orchards.

When they got to his place on the earth, they found that he had
taken some of the peaches with him and he, with other monkeys, was
having a feast. The soldiers challenged him to come out and fight.
He immediately accepted this challenge, but the soldiers could do
nothing with him. He pulled the hair out of his coat and
transformed each hair into a little monkey and each monkey had an
iron rod in its hand. He himself had a special iron rod, which had
been given to him by the King of Sea Dragons. This rod he could
make any size he wanted from a needle to a crowbar.

Among the buddhas who had gone with the soldiers was one named Erh
Lang Yeh, who was the most powerful of them all and had three
eyes. This buddha had a dog which was very powerful and he told
the dog to bite this monkey, which he did, and the monkey fell
down and they caught him and brought him up to heaven. When they
got there the Empress of Heaven ordered that he should be handed
to Lao Chun, an old taoist god, and that he should burn him in his
incense burner. The incense burner was very large, and when they
took the monkey to him he placed him inside this burner and
watched him very carefully to see that he did not get out. After
he had watched for a long time he thought the monkey must be dead
and went out for a few minutes. The monkey, however, was not dead
and as soon as Lao Chun went out, he escaped and stole some golden
pills which Lao Chun kept in a gourd and went back to his hole in
the mountains. These pills were very powerful and if one of them
were eaten it would give eternal life, and the monkey knew this.
The monkey ate one and it tasted good and he gave the little
monkeys some. When Lao Chun came back and found both the monkey
and the pills gone he went and informed the Empress of Heaven.
This ended the second scene.

The third scene opened with the buddhas and soldiers at the
monkey's place in the mountains and they again asked him to come
out and fight. The monkey said: "What! Coming again?" and laughed
at them. They started to fight again, but he was so strong they
could not get the best of him. Even the dog who had bit him before
was powerless this time, and they finally gave it up and returned
to heaven and told the Empress of Heaven that they could not
capture him the second time, as he was too strong. Then the
Empress of Heaven called a little god about fifteen years old by
the name of Neur Cha, who had supernatural powers, and told him to
go down to earth to the monkey's place and see if he could finish
him. This god was made of lotus flowers and leaves, that is, his
bones were made of flowers and his flesh made of leaves and he
could transform himself into anything that he wished. When Neur
Cha got to the monkey's place and the monkey saw him, he said:
"What! A little boy like you come to fight me? Well, if you think
you can beat me, come on," and the boy transformed himself into an
immense man with three heads and six arms. When the monkey saw
this, he transformed himself also into the same thing. When the
little god saw that this would not do, he transformed himself into
a very big man and started to take the monkey, but the monkey
transformed himself into a very large sword and cut this man into
two pieces. The little god again transformed himself into fire to
burn the monkey, but the monkey transformed himself into water and
put the fire out. Again the little god transformed himself, this
time into a very fierce lion, but the monkey transformed himself
into a big net to catch the lion. So this little god, seeing that
he could not get the best of the monkey, gave it up and went back
to heaven, and told the Empress of Heaven that the monkey was too
strong for him. The Empress of Heaven was in despair, so she sent
for Ju Li, an old ancestor of the buddhas, who was the
all-powerful one of them all; and Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy, and
sent them down to the monkey's place to see if they could capture
him. When they arrived at the hole in the mountain the monkey came
out and looked at Ju Li, but did not say a word, as he knew who
this god was. This god pointed a finger at him and he knelt down
and submitted. Ju Li said: "Come with me," and took the monkey and
put him under another mountain and told him he would have to stay
there until he promised he would be good. Ju Li said: "You stay
here until one day I lift this mountain up for you to come out to
go with a Buddhist Priest to the West side of heaven and demand
the prayer books that are kept there. You will have to suffer a
great deal on the way and face many dangers, but if you come back
with this Buddhist Priest and the prayer books, by that time your
savage temper will be gone and you will be put in a nice place in
heaven and enjoy life forever afterwards."

This finished the play, which was very interesting, and I enjoyed
it from beginning to end. It was acted very cleverly and quite
realistic, and I was very much surprised to know that the eunuchs
could act so well. Her Majesty told us that the scenery was all
painted by the eunuchs and that she had taught them about all they
knew. Unlike most theatres in China, it had a curtain which was
closed between the acts, also wing slides and drop scenes. Her
Majesty had never seen a foreign theatre and I could not
understand where she got all her ideas from. She was very fond of
reading religious books and fairy tales, and wrote them into plays
and staged them herself, and was extremely proud of her
achievement.

Her Majesty sat talking, we standing, for some little time and she
asked me if I understood the play, and I told her that I did and
she seemed quite pleased. Then she said in such a charming way:
"Oh! I am so interested in talking with you that I have forgotten
to order my lunch. Are you hungry? Could you get Chinese food when
you were abroad, and were you homesick? I know I would be if I
left my own country for so long a time; but the reason why you
were abroad so long was not your fault. It was my order that sent
Yu Keng to Paris and I am not a bit sorry, for you see how much
you can help me now, and I am proud of you and will show you to
the foreigners that they may see our Manchu ladies can speak other
languages than their own." While she was talking I noticed that
the eunuchs were laying three large tables with nice white table
cloths, and I could see a number of other eunuchs standing in the
courtyard with boxes of food. These boxes or trays are made of
wood painted yellow and are large enough to hold four small and
two large bowls of food. After the tables were laid ready, the
eunuchs outside formed themselves into a double line from the
courtyard to a little gate running into another courtyard and
passed these trays from one to the other up to the entrance of the
room, where they were taken by four nicely dressed eunuchs and
placed on the tables.

It seems that it was a habit of Her Majesty to take her meals
wherever she happened to be, so that there was no particular place
that she used as a dining room. I should also mention that these
bowls were of Imperial yellow with silver covers. Some were
ornamented with green dragons and some with the Chinese character
Shou (Long Life).

There were about one hundred and fifty different kinds of food,
for I counted them. They were placed in long rows, one row of
large bowls and one row of small plates, and then another row of
small bowls, and so on. As the setting of the tables was going on,
two Court ladies came into the bedroom, each carrying a large
yellow box. I was very much surprised to see Court ladies doing
this kind of work and I said to myself, if I come here will I have
to do this sort of thing? Although these boxes appeared to be
quite heavy, they brought them in very gracefully. Two small
tables were placed in front of Her Majesty, then they opened the
boxes and placed a number of very cute plates containing all sorts
of sweets, lotus flower seeds, dried and cooked with sugar,
watermelon seeds, walnuts cooked in different ways, and fruits of
the season cut and sliced. As these plates were being placed on
the tables Her Majesty said that she liked these dainties better
than meat and gave us some and told us to make ourselves at home.
We thanked her for her kindness and enjoyed them very much. I
noticed that she ate quite a quantity from the different plates
and wondered how she would be able to eat her lunch. When she had
finished, two of the Court ladies came and took the plates away
and Her Majesty told us that she always gave what was left to the
Court ladies after she had finished eating.

After this a eunuch came in carrying a cup of tea. This tea cup
was made of pure white jade and the saucer and cover was of solid
gold. Then another eunuch came in carrying a silver tray on which
were two jade cups similar to the others, one containing
honeysuckle flowers and the other rose petals. He also brought a
pair of gold chopsticks. They both knelt on the floor in front of
Her Majesty and held the trays up so that she could reach them.
She took the golden cover off of the cup containing tea and took
some of the honeysuckle flowers and placed them in the tea. While
she was doing this and sipping the tea, she was telling how fond
she was of flowers and what a delicate flavor they gave to the
tea. Then she said: "I will let you taste some of my tea and see
if you like it," and ordered one of the eunuchs to bring us some
tea, the same as she was drinking. When it came, she put some of
the honeysuckle flowers in the cup for us and watched us drink it.
It was the most delicious tea I had ever tasted and the putting of
flowers in it gave it an extremely delicate flavour.



CHAPTER FOUR

A LUNCHEON WITH THE EMPRESS

 WHEN we had finished drinking tea, she told us to go with her
into the next room, where the tables had been prepared for lunch,
and I wondered if she had any room for lunch, after all that she
had just eaten, but I soon found out. As soon as she was inside
the room, she ordered the covers to be removed and they were all
taken off at one time. Then she took her seat at the head of the
table and told us to stand at the foot. She then said: "generally
the Emperor takes lunch with me when we have the theatre, but he
is shy to-day, as you are all new to him. I hope he will get over
it and not be so bashful. You three had better eat with me
to-day." Of course, we knew that this was an especial favor, and
thanked her by kowtowing before we commenced to eat. This
kowtowing, or bowing our heads to the ground, was very tiring at
first and made us dizzy, until we got used to it.

When we commenced to eat, Her Majesty ordered the eunuchs to place
plates for us and give us silver chopsticks, spoons, etc., and
said:

"I am sorry you have to eat standing, but I cannot break the law
of our great ancestors. Even the Young Empress cannot sit in my
presence. I am sure the foreigners must think we are barbarians to
treat our Court ladies in this way and I don't wish them to know
anything about our customs. You will see how differently I act in
their presence, so that they cannot see my true self."

I was watching her while she was talking to my mother and
marvelled to see how she could eat, after having eaten such a
quantity of candy, walnuts, etc., while in her bedroom.

Beef was a thing that was tabooed within the precincts of the
Palace, as it was considered a great sin to kill and eat animals
that were used as beasts of burden. The food consisted mostly of
pork, mutton and game, fowls and vegetables. This day we had pork
cooked in ten different ways, such as meat balls, sliced cold in
two different ways, red and white, the red being cooked with a
special kind of sauce made of beans which gives it the red color
and has a delicious taste. Chopped pork with chopped bamboo
shoots, pork cut in cubes and cooked with cherries and pork cooked
with onions and sliced thin. This last dish was Her Majesty's
favorite and I must say it was good. Then there was a sort of
pancake made of eggs, pork and mushrooms chopped fine and fried,
also pork cooked with cabbage and another dish cooked with
turnips. The fowl and mutton was cooked in several different ways.
In the center of the table was a very large bowl about two feet in
diameter of the same yellow porcelain, in which there was a
chicken, a duck and some shark fins in a clear soup. Shark fins
are considered a great delicacy in China. Besides this there was
roast chicken, boneless chicken and roast duck. Ducks and chickens
are stuffed with little pine needles to give them a fine flavor
and roasted in open air ovens.

There was another dish that Her Majesty was very fond of and that
was the skin of roast pork cut into very small slices and fried
until it curls up like a rasher of bacon.

As a rule the Manchu people seldom eat rice, but are very fond of
bread and this day we had bread, made in a number of different
ways, such as baked, steamed, fried, some with sugar and some with
salt and pepper, cut in fancy shapes or made in fancy moulds such
as dragons, butterflies, flowers, etc., and one kind was made with
mincemeat inside. Then we had a number of different kinds of
pickles, of which Her Majesty was very fond. Then there was beans
and green peas, and peanuts made into cakes and served with
sugarcane syrup.

I did not eat very much, as I was too busy watching Her Majesty
and listening to what she said, although she told us to eat all we
could. In addition to all I have mentioned, we had many different
kinds of porridge, some made of sweet corn and some with tiny
yellow rice (like bird seed), and Her Majesty said that we must
all eat porridge after our meat.

After we had finally finished eating, Her Majesty rose from the
table and said: "Come into my bedroom and you will see the Young
Empress and the Court ladies eat; they always eat after I am
finished." We went with her and I stood near the door between the
two rooms and saw the Young Empress and Court ladies come in and
stand around the table eating very quietly. They were never
allowed to sit down and eat their food.

All this time the theatre had been going on playing some fairy
tales, but they were not near as interesting as the first play
that we had seen. Her Majesty sat on her long couch in the bedroom
and the eunuch brought her some tea and she ordered some brought
for us. My reader can imagine how delighted I was to be treated in
this way. In China the people think their sovereign is the supreme
being and that her word is law. One must never raise their eyes
when talking to her. This is a sign of great respect. I thought
these extreme favors must be most unusual. I had been told that
Her Majesty had a very fierce temper, but seeing her so kind and
gracious to us and talking to us in such a motherly way, I thought
my informant must be wrong and that she was the sweetest woman in
the world.

When Her Majesty had rested a while, she told us that it was time
we were returning to the city, as it was getting late. She gave us
eight big yellow boxes of fruit and cakes to take home with us.
She said to my mother: "Tell Yu Keng (my father) to get better
soon and tell him to take the medicine I am sending by you and to
rest well. Also give him these eight boxes of fruit and cakes." I
thought my father, who had been quite ill since we returned from
Paris, would not be much benefited if he ate all those cakes.
However, I knew he would appreciate her kind thoughtfulness even
if it were detrimental to his health.

As perhaps most of my readers know, it is the custom to kowtow
when Her Majesty gives presents and we kowtowed to her when she
gave us the fruit and cakes and thanked her for her kindness.

Just as we were leaving, Her Majesty said to my mother that she
liked us very much and wanted us to come and be her Court ladies
and stay at the Palace. We thought this was another great favor
and again thanked her, and she asked us when we could come and
told us to bring our clothes and things only, as she would fix
everything for us and showed us the house we would live in when we
came and told us to come back inside of two days. This house
contained three very large rooms and was situated on the right
side of her own or private Palace. This Palace Ler Shou Tong (Ever
Happy Palace) is situated on the shores of the lake and was Her
Majesty's favorite place and where she spent most of her time,
reading and resting and when the spirit moved her she would go for
a sail on the lake. In this Palace she had quite a number of
bedrooms and made use of them all.

When she had finished showing us this house we took leave of Her
Majesty, the Young Empress and the Court ladies, and after a long
and tiresome ride, reached home exhausted but happy, after the
most eventful day of our lives. When we got into the house, we
were surprised to find several eunuchs waiting our return. They
had brought us each four rolls of Imperial brocade from Her
Majesty. Once more we had to bend to custom in thanking her for
these gifts. This time, the gift having been sent to the house, we
placed the silk on a table in the center of the room and kowtowed
to thank Her Majesty and told the eunuchs to tell Her Majesty how
grateful we were to her for all her kindness and for the beautiful
gifts.

There is another thing that had to be done according to the
custom, and that was to give the eunuchs a present or tip, and we
had to give each of the eunuchs ten taels for their trouble. We
afterwards found out that when eunuchs went anywhere to take
presents for Her Majesty, they were required to report to her when
they returned how the recipient had thanked her and what had been
given them, which she allowed them to keep. She also asked them
numerous questions about our house, whether we were pleased with
her, etc. These people are extremely fond of talking and after we
had returned to the Palace again, they told us what Her Majesty
had said about us the first day we were there.

My mother felt very much worried to go to the Palace and leave my
father all alone owing to his being in poor health, but we could
not disobey Her Majesty's order, so we returned to the Palace
three days later.

Our first day there was a busy one for us. When we first arrived
we went and thanked Her Majesty for the present that she had sent
us. She told us that she was very busy to-day, as she was going to
receive a Russian lady, Madame Plancon, wife of the Russian
Minister to China, who was bringing a miniature portrait of the
Czar and Czarina and family as a present from the Czar to her, the
Empress Dowager. She asked me if I could speak Russian. I told her
that I could not, but that most Russians spoke French, which
seemed to satisfy her. She, however, said: "Why don't you tell me
you speak Russian, I won't know or be able to find out," and at
the same time was looking at one of the Court ladies. I concluded
that someone must be fooling her, for she seemed to appreciate the
fact that I had told her the truth. This afterwards proved to be
true and one of the Court ladies was dismissed for pretending she
could talk foreign languages when she could not speak a word.

Besides this audience there was the theatre and the engagement
ceremony of Her Majesty's nephew, Ter Ju. The engagement ceremony,
according to the Manchu custom, is performed by two of the
Princesses of the Royal family going to the house of the
prospective bride, who sits on her bed cross-legged, her eyes
closed and awaits their coming. When they arrive at the house,
they go to her bedroom and place a symbol called Ru Yee, made of
pure jade about one and a half feet long, in her lap and suspend
two small bags made of silk and beautifully embroidered, each
containing a gold coin, from the buttons of her gown, and place
two gold rings on her fingers, on which is carved the characters
Ta Hsi (Great Happiness). The meaning of the symbol or sceptre Ru
Yee is "May all joy be yours."

During this entire ceremony absolute silence is maintained and
immediately they have finished, they return to the Palace and
inform Her Majesty that the ceremony has been completed.



CHAPTER FIVE

AN AUDIENCE WITH THE EMPRESS

 No one informed us the day before that there was to be an
audience to receive the Russian Minister's wife on that very day.
We told Her Majesty that we must go and change our clothes in
order to receive this lady. The dresses we wore that day were very
simply made and short. The reason we wore this kind of costume was
that there was no carpet and the bare brick floor had ruined our
beautiful red velvet gowns, also the clumsy eunuchs had kept
stepping on our trains all the time. We had made up our minds that
short dresses for general wear every day would be more practical.
Her Majesty said: "Why must you change your clothes? I see you
look much better without that tail dragging behind you on the
floor. I laughed at the idea of having a tail on one's dresses. I
noticed that the first day when you came to the Court." Before we
had time to explain to her, she said: "I see, dresses with tails
behind must be more dignified than short ones, am I right?" We
told her it was so. Then she said: "Go and put on your most
beautiful gowns at once." We immediately went and changed. My
sister and myself wore our pink crepe de chine gowns, trimmed with
Brussels lace and transparent yokes of the same color chiffon. My
mother wore her gray crepe de chine embroidered with black roses
and a little touch of pale blue satin on her collar and belt. We
dressed in a great hurry, as Her Majesty had sent eunuchs to see
if we were ready. When she saw us she exclaimed: "Here are three
fairies with long tails." Then she asked us: "Is it very tiring to
hold half of your dress in your hand when you are walking? The
costume is pretty, but I do dislike the tail, there is no sense
having a thing like that. I wonder what these foreigners will
think of me having you dressed in their costume. I am sure they
won't like the idea. My reason is this: I want them to see you in
foreign clothes in order to let them understand I know something
about the way they dress. I must say that no foreign ladies have
yet been presented to me dressed in such lovely gowns as you three
have. I don't believe foreigners are as wealthy as the Chinese. I
also notice they wear very little jewelry. I was told that I have
more jewelry than any sovereign in the world and yet I am getting
more all the time."

We were very busy getting ready to receive Mdme. Plancon, who
arrived about eleven o'clock and was received in the waiting room
of the first courtyard by my sister and from there conducted to
the audience hall, Ren Shou Dien, where she was received by Her
Majesty, who was sitting on her big throne on the raised dais. The
Emperor was present, sitting on Her Majesty's left hand and I
stood on her right to interpret for her. Her Majesty was dressed
in a yellow transparent satin brocade gown, embroidered with
hollyhocks and the Chinese character "Shou" (Long Life) and
trimmed with gold braid. She wore her big pearl, which is about
the size and shape of an egg, suspended from the button of her
dress, also numerous bracelets and rings and gold finger nail
protectors. Her hair was dressed in the same style as usual.

When Mdme. Plancon entered the hall, my sister brought her to the
steps of the dais and she courtesied to Her Majesty. I then went
forward and brought her up onto the dais and Her Majesty shook
hands with her and she presented the photograph which she had
brought to Her Majesty. Her Majesty made a very pretty speech of
acceptance, expressing her appreciation of the gift of their
Majesties, the Czar and Czarina. I interpreted this speech in
French to Mdme. Plancon, as she could not speak English. After
this, Her Majesty told me to take Mdme. Plancon to the Emperor,
which I did. He stood up when she came near and shook hands with
her and asked after their Majesties' health. This over, Her
Majesty stepped down from her throne and took Mdme. Plancon to her
own Palace, the one with so many bedrooms, and when they arrived,
Her Majesty asked her to sit down, and they talked together for
about ten minutes, I interpreting for them, after which I took her
to see the Young Empress.

The Manchu law is very strict as regards the mother-in-law and the
daughter-in-law, and the Young Empress had been sitting behind the
screen at the back of the throne during the audience, and it was
there that I found her. From there we went to the banquet hall,
where luncheon was served in Manchu style.

Here I must explain the difference between the Chinese way of
eating and the Manchu. The Chinese place the bowls of food, one at
a time, in the center of the table and everyone eats out of these
bowls, sticking their chopsticks in and helping themselves to what
they want. The Manchus eat quite differently and are served with
individual bowls and dishes, the same as in any other country. Her
Majesty was very proud of this and said that it saved time, not to
mention being cleaner. The food in the Palace was always very good
and clean, especially when we had foreign guests, and of course we
had a variety of dishes for such occasions, such as sharkfins,
birds' nest pudding, not to mention a great quantity of other
things.

Her Majesty had given me the order that morning to have the tables
nicely decorated and they did look very nice when we sat down.
Besides the usual tableware, we had gold dragon menu holders,
little peach-shaped silver saucers filled with almonds and dried
watermelon seeds, and knives and forks in addition to chopsticks.

Her Majesty and the Emperor never ate with guests, so Mdme.
Plancon was entertained by the Imperial Princess and the Court
ladies. When luncheon was half over a eunuch came and told me that
Her Majesty wanted to see me at once. The thought flashed through
my head that something had gone wrong, or that some of the eunuchs
had been making false reports, a bad habit of the Court; and I was
much surprised to find her all smiles. She told me what a nice,
polite lady Mdme. Plancon was, that she had seen many ladies who
had come to the Court, but none with manners like this one, that
she was sorry to say that some of the ladies who came did not
behave very well. She said: "They seem to think we are only
Chinese and do not know anything, and look down upon us. I notice
these things very quickly and am surprised to see people who claim
to be well educated and civilized acting the way they do. I think
we whom they call barbarians are much more civilized and have
better manners." She was always very polite to the foreign ladies,
no matter how badly they behaved, but after they had gone, she
would tell us who was nice and who was not. After she had finished
saying this, she gave me a beautiful piece of green jade to give
to Madame Plancon. When I gave it to her, she said she wished to
thank Her Majesty, and I took her to the Palace again.

When we had finished luncheon, she told me how pleased she was
with her reception and the kindness that Her Majesty had shown
her, and took her departure, we accompanying her to the courtyard
of the Audience Hall, where her chair was waiting.

Her Majesty had made a rule or custom that after all guests had
departed, we must go to her and report everything. I suppose she
was like all women, a bit of a gossip as well as the rest; it
appeared so at any rate. She wanted to know what Mdme. Plancon
said, whether she liked the jade and whether she enjoyed her
luncheon, etc.

Her Majesty was very well pleased that I had interpreted so well
for her and said: "I have never had anyone to interpret for me
this way before. Although I don't understand the language, I can
see that you speak it fluently. How did you learn? I will never
let you go away from me any more. Sometimes the foreign ladies
bring their own interpreters, but I can't understand their Chinese
and have to guess at what they are saying, especially some of the
missionaries Mrs. Conger brings with her. I am very happy to have
you and want you to stay with me as long as I live and I will
arrange a marriage for you, but won't tell you just now."

I felt very happy at what Her Majesty had said and thought I had
made my debut under very favorable auspices, and was very glad
that Her Majesty liked me; but this marriage question worried me,
for nothing was farther from my mind than this. I afterwards told
my mother about it and she told me not to worry, as I could always
refuse when the time came.

When we had told Her Majesty all that Mdme. Plancon had said, she
told us we could go to our rooms, that as we had risen early that
morning and had worked very hard, we must be tired and needed
rest, that she would not need us any more that day. We courtesied
to her according to the custom when saying good night, and
retired.



CHAPTER SIX

IN ATTENDANCE ON HER MAJESTY

 THE building where we had our rooms, as I have said before,
contained four large rooms and a hall, and we three, my mother,
sister and myself, each took a room and gave the fourth to our
maids. Her Majesty had ordered a eunuch to accompany us and this
eunuch told us that Her Majesty had ordered four young eunuchs to
attend on us and that if they did not behave, we should tell him.
He also said his name was Li, but as there were so many by this
name, including the head eunuch, it was very hard to tell them
apart.

When we arrived, which took some time, he pointed to a building on
our right and said that it was Her Majesty's own Palace and the
one which we had just left. I could not understand why it had
taken us so long to come, when the Palace was so near, and asked
him about it. He told us that our little buildings were at the
left side of the Emperor's Palace and that Her Majesty had had the
entrance leading from our place to her Palace closed up for
certain reasons which he would not tell, but said: "You see this
place ought to face East instead of towards the lake." The view on
the lake was beautiful and I told him I liked it much better the
way it was. He smiled and said: "You will have to learn a lot
before you find out this wicked place." I was surprised at what
the eunuch said, but did not like to ask him any questions. He
also told us that the Emperor's Palace was just behind our place
and was a large building similar to Her Majesty's Palace. We
looked and could see the trees of his courtyard above the roof.
Then he pointed to another building behind the Emperor's, which
was larger but lower than the Emperor's Palace, and also had a
large courtyard, and said it was the Young Empress's Palace. It
had two buildings flanking it on each side and the eunuch told us
that the one on the left was the Secondary Wife's bedroom. That
there had been an entrance between the two Palaces, but that Lao
Fo Yeh (The great old Buddha), as the eunuchs called Her Majesty,
had blocked it up so that the Emperor and Empress could not
communicate with each other, except through Her Majesty's own
Palace. I suppose this was the way she kept watch over them and
knew at all times what they were doing. This was all news to me
and I did not know what to think of it. I was afraid that this
eunuch Li would tell me more of these curious things, so I told
him I was tired and would go to my room and rest, and he went
away.

When I finally got inside my room and had a chance to look around,
I saw that it was very prettily furnished with ebonywood
furniture, which was covered with red satin cushions and the
windows were hung with red silk curtains. All the bedrooms were
just alike. The kong (bed) was made of brick covered with the same
kind of wood and ran along the wall under the front window. It had
high teaster posts with slats running across on which red curtains
were hung. These kongs are very curiously built. They are made of
brick and have a hole in the front center in which fire is placed
to heat the brick in winter time. During the day a sort of table
is placed on top of the kong and removed again at night.

Shortly after we had gone to our rooms, some eunuchs came and
brought our dinner, which they placed on a table in the center of
the hall. They told us the food had been sent by Her Majesty and
that she had ordered them to tell us to make ourselves
comfortable. We were so tired that we could not eat very much and
were about to retire for the night when this eunuch Li came again
and told us that we must be up at five o'clock, not later, so I
told my eunuch to knock on my window at five. Immediately after
this we went to bed, but did not sleep immediately, as we wanted
to talk over the events of the day, which had been many and
strange. After we did finally get to bed, it seemed as if we had
just fallen asleep when I heard someone knocking on my window. I
woke up with a start and asked what the matter was and a eunuch
told me it was five o'clock and time to get up.

I immediately got up and opened my window and looked out. The day
was just dawning and the sky was a beautiful deep red which was
reflected in the lake, which was perfectly calm. The scenery was
lovely and in the distance I could see Her Majesty's peony
mountain, which was literally covered with these beautiful
flowers. I dressed at once and went to Her Majesty's Palace and
there met the Young Empress sitting on the veranda. I courtesied
to her as a good morning salute. The Emperor's Secondary wife was
there also, but we had been ordered not to courtesy to her, as she
was considered not to have any standing there. There was also a
number of young Court ladies, many of whom I had never seen
before. The Young Empress introduced me to them, saying that they
were also Court ladies. They were daughters of high Manchu
officials and some were very pretty and bright. The Young Empress
told me that these ten (there were just ten there) were never
allowed to go near Her Majesty, as they were just learning the
court etiquette. They were all dressed very nicely in pretty
Manchu gowns, the same design as that worn by the Young Empress.

After I had been introduced to these young ladies and talked with
them a while, I went inside with the Young Empress and there met
Sze Gurgur, fourth daughter of Prince Ching and a young widow
twenty-four years of age, Yuen Da Nai Nai, widow of Her Majesty's
nephew. Both were busy getting things ready for Her Majesty. The
Young Empress told us that we must go at once to Her Majesty's
bedroom and assist Her Majesty to dress, so we went at once and
courtesied to her and said: "Lao Tsu Tsung Chi Hsiang" (old
ancestor, all joy be with you). Her Majesty was still in bed and
smiled to us and asked us if we had slept well. We told her the
rooms were very comfortable, etc. I thought to myself, we had
slept very well for the little time we had, but I had not had half
enough. The day before had been very hard for us and we were quite
unused to it and it had made us very lame and sore running around
so much.

She asked us if we had had any breakfast and we told her not yet.
She scolded Li for not having given the order for our breakfast to
be brought to our rooms and said: "You must not feel like
strangers, order anything you may want." Then she arose and
started to dress. She put on her white silk socks first, having
slept in her pantaloons as is the custom, and tied them at the
ankle with pretty ribbon. I must tell you here that although she
always slept in her clothes, she changed them for clean ones every
day. Then she put on a pale pink shirt of soft material and over
that a short silk gown, that was embroidered with bamboo leaves,
as she always wore low heeled shoes in the morning and
consequently could not wear her long gowns. After she had dressed
she walked over to a window in front of which were two long tables
covered with toilet articles of every kind and description.

As she was washing her face and dressing her hair, she said to my
mother that she could not bear to have the servant girls, eunuchs,
or old women, touch her bed, that they were dirty, so the Court
ladies must make it. When she said this she turned to my sister
and myself, we were standing a little to one side, and said: "You
two must not think for a moment that the Court ladies do servant's
work, but you know I am an old woman and could easily be your
grandmother and it will do you no harm to work a little for me.
When it comes your turn, you can superintend the others and don't
have to do the work with your own hands." Then Her Majesty said to
me: "Der Ling you are a great help to me in every way and I make
you my first lady-in-waiting. You must not work too much for you
will have to make all the arrangements for the audiences for
foreigners and you will have to interpret for me. I also want you
to look after my jewels and don't want you to do rough work at
all. Roon Ling (my sister) can choose what she likes to do. I have
two more besides you, Sze Gurgur and Yuen Da Nai Nai, making four
altogether and you must all work together. It is not necessary to
be too polite to them and if they are not nice to you, you let me
know." Although I was very happy at receiving this appointment, I
knew that according to custom I must refuse it, so I thanked Her
Majesty very kindly for the honor she had given me and said that I
did not know enough to hold such an important position and would
prefer to be just an ordinary Court lady, and that I would learn
as quickly as possible to be useful to her. She hardly let me
finish what I was saying, when she laughed and said: "Stop! don't
say anything like that; you are too modest, which shows you are
very clever and not a bit conceited. I am surprised to see what a
perfect little Manchu lady you are, knowing even such small
etiquette as this, although you have spent many years outside of
China." She was very fond of making fun and liked very much to
tease, and said that I could try and if she saw that I could not
do the work, she would scold me and put someone else in my place.
After all this that she had said, I accepted the appointment and
went over to her bed to see how it was made, and I found that it
was very easy work to do. As this would be one of my duties, I
watched while the bed was being fixed. First of all, after Her
Majesty had risen, the bedclothes were taken out into the
courtyard by the eunuchs and aired, then the bed, which was made
of beautifully carved wood, was brushed off with a sort of
whiskbroom, and a piece of felt placed over it. Then three thick
mattresses made of yellow brocade were placed over the felt. After
this came the sheets made of different colored soft silk, and over
the whole thing was placed a covering of plain yellow satin
embroidered with gold dragons and blue clouds. She had a great
many pillows, all beautifully embroidered, which were placed on
the bed during the daytime; but had a particular one stuffed with
tea leaves on which she slept. It is said that stuffing the pillow
on which you sleep with tea leaves is good for the eyes. In
addition to all these, she had another very curiously shaped
pillow about twelve inches long in the middle of which was a hole
about three inches square. It was stuffed with dried flowers, and
the idea of the hole was that when she laid on it she could place
her ear in this hole and in this way hear any and every sound. I
suppose in that way no one could come on her unawares.

Besides this last yellow embroidered cover, there were six covers
of different colors, pale mauve, blue, pink, green and violet, and
were placed one on top of the other. Over the top of the bed was a
frame of wood handsomely carved and from this frame white crepe
curtains, beautifully embroidered, hung, and numerous little gauze
silk bags filled with scent were suspended from the carved work of
the frame. The odor from these bags was very strong and made one
feel sick until they became used to it. Her Majesty was also very
fond of musk and used it on all occasions.

It took us about fifteen minutes to make the bed, and when I had
finished, I turned around and saw that Her Majesty was dressing
her hair. I stood beside her Majesty while the eunuch was dressing
it and saw that as old as she was, she still had beautiful long
hair which was as soft as velvet and raven black. She parted it in
the center and brought it low at the back of her ears, and the
back braid was brushed up on the top of her head and made it into
a tight knot. When she had finished doing this, she was ready to
have the Gu'un Dzan (Manchu headdress) placed on and pinned
through the knot with two large pins. Her Majesty always dressed
her hair first and then washed her face. She was as fussy and
particular as a young girl and would give it to the eunuch if he
did not get it just to suit her. She had dozens of bottles of all
kinds of perfume, also perfumed soap. When she had finished
washing her face, she dried it on a soft towel and sprayed it with
a kind of glycerine made of honey and flower petals. After that
she put some kind of strong scented pink powder on her face.

When she had completed her toilet, she turned to me and said: "It
must seem to you quite funny to see an old lady like me taking so
much care and pains in dressing and fixing up. Well! I like to
dress myself up and to see others dress nicely. It always gives me
pleasure to see pretty girls dressed nicely; it makes you want to
be young again yourself." I told her that she looked quite young
and was still beautiful, and that although we were young we would
never dare compare ourselves with her. This pleased her very much,
as she was very fond of compliments, and I took great pains that
morning to study her and to find out what she liked and what she
didn't.

After this Her Majesty took me into another room and showed me
where her jewels were kept. This room was covered with shelves on
three sides of the room from top to bottom, on which were placed
piles of ebony boxes all containing jewels. Small yellow strips
were pasted on some of the boxes on which was written the
contents. Her Majesty pointed to a row of boxes on the right side
of the room and said: "Here is where I keep my favorite everyday
jewels, and some day you must go over them and see that they are
all there. The rest are all jewels which I wear on special
occasions. There are about three thousand boxes in this room and I
have a lot more locked up in my safety room, which I will show you
when I am not busy." Then she said: "I am sorry you cannot read
and write Chinese, otherwise I would give you a list of these
things and you could keep a check on them." I was very much
surprised at this and wondered who had told her I couldn't. I was
anxious to know, but did not dare to ask her, so I told her that
although I was not a scholar, I had studied Chinese for some time
and could read and write a little, that if she would give me a
list I would try and read it. She said: "That is funny, someone
told me the first day you were here, I forget now who it was, that
you could not read or write your own language at all." While she
was saying this, she was looking all around the room and I was
sure she knew who it was that had told her, but she would not tell
me. Then she said: "When we have time this afternoon, I will go
over this list with you. Bring me those five boxes on the first
row of shelves." I brought the boxes to her room and placed them
on the table. She opened the first one and it contained a most
beautiful peony made of coral and jade and each petal trembled
like a real flower. This flower was made by stringing the petals
which were made of coral on very fine brass wire, also the leaves
which were made of pure jade. She took this flower and placed it
on the right side of her headdress. Then she opened another box
and took from it a magnificent jade butterfly made in the same
way. This was an invention of her own and it was done by carving
the coral and jade into petals and leaves and boring holes in the
lower ends through which brass wire was run. The other two boxes
contained bracelets and rings of different patterns. There was a
pair of gold bracelets set with pearls, another pair set with
jade, with a piece of jade hanging from the end of a small gold
chain, etc. The last two contained chains of pearls, the like of
which I never saw before, and I fell in love with them at once.
Her Majesty took one which was made into a plum blossom string by
winding a circle of five pearls around a larger one, then one
single pearl, then another circle of five pearls around a large
one, and so on, making quite a long chain, which she suspended
from one of the buttons of her gown.

At this juncture one of the Court ladies came in carrying several
gowns for Her Majesty to select from. She looked at them and said
that none of them suited her, to take them back and bring more. I
had a look at them and thought they were perfectly lovely, such
pretty colors and so beautifully embroidered. In a short while the
same Court lady came back carrying more, and from these Her
Majesty selected a sea-green one embroidered all over with white
storks. She put this gown on and looked at herself in the mirror
for a while, then took off her jade butterfly. She said: "You see
I am very particular about little details. The jade butterfly is
too green and it kills my gown. Put it back in the box and bring
me a pearl stork in No. 35 box." I went back to the jewel room and
fortunately found No. 35 box and brought it to her. She opened the
box and took from it a stork made entirely of pearls set in
silver, the bird's bill being made of coral. The pearls making the
body of the bird were so cleverly set that the silver could not be
seen at all unless one looked at it very closely. It was a most
magnificent piece of workmanship and the pearls were of perfect
color and shape. Her Majesty took it and placed it in her hair and
did look very graceful and pretty. Then she picked out a
mauve-colored short jacket, also embroidered with storks, which
she put on over her gown. Her handkerchief and shoes were also
embroidered with storks and when she was entirely dressed she
looked like the stork lady.

Just as she had finished dressing, the Emperor Kwang Hsu came into
the bedroom dressed in his official clothes. These clothes were
exactly like other official clothes, except that he had no button
on his hat and did not wear the peacock feather. He knelt down
before Her Majesty and said: "Chin Baba, Chi Hsiang" (dear father,
all joy be with you). It may seem curious that the Emperor and all
of us should call Her Majesty father, and the reason why this was
done was because Her Majesty always wanted to be a man and
compelled everyone to address her as if she were actually one.
This was only one of her many peculiarities.

I did not know whether to courtesy to the Emperor or not, not
having received any orders as to what I should do. However, I
thought it better to be too polite than not enough, so I waited
until either he or Her Majesty went out of the room, as we were
not allowed to salute or courtesy to anyone in her presence. In a
little while the Emperor went out and I followed him out into the
hall and just as I was in the act of courtesying Her Majesty came
out. She looked at me in a very peculiar way, as if she did not
approve of what I had done, but said nothing. I felt very
uncomfortable and made up my mind that being too polite did not
always pay after all.

I then returned to the room again and saw a small eunuch placing
several yellow boxes on a table at the left side of the room. Her
Majesty seated herself in a large chair, which was called her
little throne, and this eunuch opened the boxes, took a yellow
envelope from each box and handed them to Her Majesty. She opened
these envelopes with an ivory paper knife and read their contents.
They were memorials from the heads of the different Boards, or
from the Viceroys of the different Provinces. The Emperor had come
back and was standing at the side of this table and after she had
finished reading, she handed them over to him. While all this was
being done I stood at the back of her chair. I watched the Emperor
as the different papers were handed to him and noticed that it did
not take him very long to finish reading their contents. After he
was finished reading the papers, they were placed back in the
boxes. During all this time absolute silence was maintained. Just
as they had finished the head eunuch came in, knelt down and
announced that Her Majesty's chair was ready. She immediately got
up and went out of the house, we following her, and I took her arm
while she was descending the steps to go to her chair. When she
had entered the chair to go to the Audience Hall, the Emperor and
Young Empress and we all followed in our usual places, the
eunuchs, amahs and servant girls carrying all the things exactly
the same as was done the first day I came to the Palace. When we
arrived at the Audience Hall, we took our places behind the big
screen and the audience commenced. I was very curious to find out
just how the audiences were conducted and wanted to listen to what
was going on, but the Court ladies would not leave me alone.
However, when they were all talking together with my sister, I
stole away into a corner where I could sit and rest and listen to
the conversation between the different Ministers and Her Majesty.
Trust a woman for being inquisitive.

The first part of the audience I could not hear very well, as so
many people were whispering and talking at the same time, but by
peeping through the carved-work of the screen, I could see a
General talking to Her Majesty. I also saw the members of the
Grand Council come in headed by Prince Ching, who was the
Councillor-in-Chief. After the General had finished, Her Majesty
talked with Prince Ching about the appointment of some minor
officials, a list of whose names had been handed to her. She
looked over this list and spoke about several of the people, but
Prince Ching suggested some others, saying: "Although these people
whose names have been submitted to Your Majesty should receive
appointments, those that I have suggested are better fitted for
the positions." Her Majesty said: "All right, I leave it all to
you." Then I heard Her Majesty say to the Emperor, "Is that
correct?" and he replied, "Yes." This finished the Audience for
the morning and the Ministers and Grand Councillors took their
leave. We came out from behind the screen to Her Majesty and she
said that she wanted to go for a walk to get some fresh air. The
servant girls brought her a mirror, placed it on a table, and Her
Majesty took off her heavy headdress, leaving the simple knot on
the top of her head, which was quite becoming. She wanted to
change some of the flower jewels and I opened a box which one of
the eunuchs had brought and took out some very dainty flowers made
of pearls. I handed her one which she placed at the side of this
knot, then she selected a jade dragonfly which she placed on the
other side. She said these small flowers were favorites of hers
and she liked to wear them when she took off her heavy headdress.
I was watching her very closely and wondered what I was going to
do with the flowers she had taken off. I had not brought the boxes
to put them in, as I did not know she was going to change again
after the audience, and felt a little nervous as to what was the
right thing to do, or as to what she would say. However, I saw a
eunuch come in carrying these boxes and felt much relieved. I
quickly placed the things in the boxes where they belonged.



CHAPTER SEVEN

SOME INCIDENTS OF THE COURT

 MY first day with Her Majesty was very trying as I did not know
just what she wanted or how she wanted things done, and no one
seemed willing to tell me; but by watching very closely I was soon
able to grasp the situation. After I had finished putting the
things in the boxes I did not know whether to take them back to
the jewel room or not, or whether to wait until Her Majesty
ordered me, and again I was in a quandary. I saw she was talking
to my mother, so I waited a little time and finally made up my
mind I would risk it and take them back, which I did. As I was
returning I met Her Majesty in the big courtyard. She had just
changed her gown again and looked much shorter as she had also
changed her shoes for ones with lower heels. This gown was made of
heavy sky-blue crepe with no embroidery at all, just trimmed with
pale pink ribbons, and she looked very nice in it. When Her
Majesty saw me, she asked me: "Where have you been?" I told her
that I had just been putting her jewels away. Then she said: "Has
anyone told you to put them away as soon as I am finished with
them? I forgot to tell you this morning, although I had meant to."
I said that no one had told me anything, that I was afraid to have
the eunuchs taking such valuable things here and there, that I was
sure that she did not want to use them any more, so I thought it
would be safer to put them away in the jewel room again. Her
Majesty looked at me and said: "I can see that these girls don't
tell you anything and I am very glad to see that you have done
just the right thing. That is why I thought someone must have told
you what to do. Anything you want to know you can ask me, but
don't talk to these mean people here." I could see from this that
there must be some jealousy among them and decided that I was well
able to find my own way, as I knew Her Majesty liked me and would
help me out.

Her Majesty walked along a little way, then laughed and said to
me: "Don't I look more comfortable now? I am going for a long walk
and take lunch on the top of the hill. There is a nice place up
there and I am sure you will like it. Come, let us go."

The Emperor had gone back to his own Palace, and the head eunuch
had also disappeared. As we were walking along, Her Majesty was
talking and smiling as if she had never a care or trouble in the
world, or any important questions of state to settle. I thought
from what I had seen so far that she had a very sweet disposition.
She looked back and said: "Just see how many people are following
us." I turned and saw the same crowd that had accompanied Her
Majesty earlier in the day to the Audience Hall.

After passing out of the large courtyard on the West side, we came
to a large, long veranda running in a zig-zag fashion along the
front of the lake, and it was so long that I could not see the end
of it. It was very prettily made of solid carved work from one end
to the other. Electric lights were hanging from the ceiling at
intervals, and when they were lighted at night, made a beautiful
sight.

Her Majesty was a very fast walker and we had to step lively to
keep up with her. The eunuchs and the servant girls walked on the
right side and only one of the eunuchs was allowed to walk behind
us, and he was the one who carried Her Majesty's yellow satin
stool, which, like her dog, went everywhere she did. This stool
she used to rest on when taking a walk. We walked for quite a long
while and I began to feel tired, but Her Majesty, as old as she
was, was still walking very fast and did not appear to be the
least bit tired. She asked me if I liked the Palace and whether I
would be satisfied to live with her, etc. I told her that it was a
great pleasure for me to serve her, that it had been my dream for
years, and now that my dream had come true, I could not help but
be satisfied.

We finally arrived at the place where the marble boat was kept,
and I was about finished. I never saw such vitality in an old
woman in my life as Her Majesty had, and it was no wonder that she
had ruled this vast Empire of China so successfully for so many
years.

This boat was magnificent, being one mass of carved work, but the
inside was all spoiled. Her Majesty showed us all over the boat,
and whilst we were looking at the ruin, she said: "Look at those
colored glasses in the windows and these beautiful paintings. They
were all spoiled by the foreign troops in 1900. I don't intend to
have it repaired as I don't want to forget the lesson I have
learned and this is a good reminder." After we had been standing
there a few minutes, a eunuch who had been carrying the famous
satin stool, came forward, and Her Majesty sat down to rest. While
we were talking I noticed two large and very fancy-looking boats
approaching us, with several smaller ones coming along behind. As
they came nearer I saw that they were also very beautifully made,
and looked like floating pagodas of beautifully carved natural
wood. The windows of the pagodas were hung with red gauze curtains
and all was trimmed with silk. Her Majesty said: "There are the
boats. We must go over to the west side of the lake and have
luncheon." Her Majesty got up and walked to the edge of the lake,
two eunuchs supporting her, one at each side. She stepped into the
boat and we all followed her example. The inside of the boat was
very nicely furnished with carved ebony furniture with blue satin
cushions, one with many pots of flowers on both sides of the
window. There were two more cabins behind this sitting room. Her
Majesty told me to go in to see those two rooms. One little room
was a dressing room full of toilet articles. The other one had two
couches and several small chairs for Her Majesty to rest whenever
she felt tired. Her Majesty sat on her throne and ordered us to
sit on the floor. The eunuchs brought in red satin cushions for us
to sit upon. To sit on the floor is all right for Chinese clothes,
but of course it was out of the question with Paris gowns, and I
felt very uncomfortable, but did not like to say so. I wanted to
change into Manchu clothes, for I knew they were comfortable and
easy to work in, but having received no order from Her Majesty, I
did not dare to suggest it. Her Majesty noticed how very
uncomfortable we looked sitting on the floor. She said: "You can
stand up if you want to and just watch those boats following us."
I put my head out of the window and noticed the Young Empress and
several other Court ladies were in the other boat. They waved to
me, and I waved back. Her Majesty laughed and said to me: "I give
you this apple to throw to them." While saying this she took one
from the big plates that stood upon the center table. I tried very
hard, but the apple did not reach the other boat, but went to the
bottom of the lake. Her Majesty laughed and told me to try again,
but I failed. Finally, she took one and threw it herself. It went
straight to the other boat and hit one of the ladies' head. We all
laughed quite heartily. Then I began to enjoy myself. There were
several open boats full of eunuchs, and another one of servant
girls, amahs and the rest with Her Majesty's luncheon. The lake
was beautiful and looked so green in the sun. I told Her Majesty
that this color reminded me of the sea. She said: "You have
travelled so much, and yet you have not had enough, but are still
thinking of the sea. You must not go abroad any more, but stay
with me. I want you to enjoy this sailing on this lake instead of
the rough sea." I promised her that I would be only too happy to
stay with her. I must say the truth, I did enjoy the lovely
scenery, the beautiful weather, superb sunshine, with Her Majesty
so kind to me and talking to me in such a motherly way made me
love her more and more every minute I was there. I was so
extremely happy there that even Paris pleasures had gone out of my
memory entirely.

At last we arrived at another part of the lake. This was more of a
stream, very narrow, just wide enough for one boat to pass. On
both sides of the bank were planted drooping willow trees that
reminded me of the Chinese Fairy tales I have read. This time I
saw the servant girls, amahs, and also eunuchs carrying boxes,
walking on both sides of the shore. Only two boats were going
then, the Young Empress' and ours. Her Majesty said: "We will
arrive at the bottom of the hill in a few minutes." When we came
near the shore I saw her yellow chair and several red chairs
waiting. We landed and walked to the chairs. I watched Her Majesty
get into hers and noticed this was not the same chair she used
this morning. This little one was, of course, of yellow, with
yellow poles, and two eunuchs carried it, with yellow rope across
their shoulders, and four eunuchs supported the poles, one on each
corner of the chair. They were just going to raise her chair up
when she said: "Yu tai tai (Lady Yu) I give you and your daughters
special favor and give you a red chair with red cord that I have
given to only a few people." The Young Empress looked at us, which
I understood at once was meant for us to kowtow to her, which we
did, and waited until the Empress got into hers. Then we went to
search for ours. To my surprise our own eunuchs were standing
waiting beside our chairs. On the poles I noticed that my name was
written and I asked our eunuch the reason. He said that Her
Majesty gave the order the night before. It was a lovely ride
going to the top of the hill. I saw Her Majesty's chair in front,
and the Young Empress'. They looked to me quite dangerous in
ascending that way, and the men at the back of the chair had to
raise the poles above their heads so as to make the chair the same
level in ascending. I was quite nervous and was very much afraid
that they might fall off and injure me. Our eunuchs were walking
beside our chairs. I said to one of them that I was afraid the
chair bearers might slip. He told me to look back of my chair,
which I did, and to my surprise they had the poles raised up also
above their heads, and I did not feel it at all. He told me that
these chair bearers practice for such purposes and that there was
no danger at all. It made my heart stop beating looking back and
seeing the other Court ladies in their chairs way below mine, the
eunuchs and servant girls walking, for fear I might fall off at
any time. At last we arrived at the top of the hill. We helped Her
Majesty to alight and followed her into the most lovely building I
ever saw, the best one in the Summer Palace to my idea (name of
this pavilion, Ching Fo Ker). This Palace had only two rooms, with
windows on every side. One could see everywhere. Her Majesty used
one large one to take her luncheon in and the other as a toilet
room. I noticed that wherever we went we found Her Majesty's
toilet room. Her Majesty took us around the compound and showed us
the lovely flowers planted everywhere. One of the young eunuchs
told me that Her Majesty's dainties were ready. That was my first
day of real work. I went out and found two large yellow boxes of
different kinds of candies and fruits, as I have before mentioned.
I carried two plates at a time, and finished in nine times,
placing them on a square table near her. She was talking to my
mother then about flowers. I noticed that although she was
talking, she was watching me at the same time. I placed the plates
upon the table very carefully, and already having noticed the day
before what were her favorite dishes, and placed these near her.
She smiled at me and said: "You have done it very nicely. And how
do you know that these are my favorites and have placed them near
me? Who told you?" I replied that no one had told me anything and
that I had noticed the day before what Lao Tsu Tsung liked
(according to the Manchu custom one must address a superior or
one's parents in the third person). Her Majesty said: "I can see
you use your heart in everything (in China people say heart
instead of head) and are not like the crowd I have here; they
haven't the brains of a bird." She was soon busy eating, and gave
me some candies, and told me to eat right there in her presence.
Of course I never forgot to thank her, for I thought I had rather
thank her too much than too little. She told me: "Whenever I give
you small things you need not kowtow. Just say: `Hsieh Lao Tsu
Tsung Shang' (Thank the old ancestor), that is enough." After a
little while she finished eating, and told me to take the dishes
away. She said: "To-day is your day, so these things are yours.
Take them out and sit down on the veranda and enjoy yourself. You
see I could not eat all. There are lots of things left. If you
like you can tell your own eunuch to send them to your room." I
placed the little dishes back in the boxes and took them to the
veranda. There I placed them upon the table and told the Young
Empress to eat some. I did not know whether it was right to offer
them to her or not and thought I could not do her any harm, even
if I tried. She said all right, that she would eat some. I took a
piece of candy and had just put it into my mouth when I heard Her
Majesty calling my name. I hurried in and found her sitting at her
table ready to take her lunch. She said: "What else did Mdme.
Plancon say yesterday? Was she really pleased? Do you think they,
the foreigners, really like me? I don't think so; on the contrary
I know they haven't forgotten the Boxer Rising in Kwang Hsu's 26th
year. I don't mind owning up that I like our old ways the best,
and I don't see any reason why we should adopt the foreign style.
Did any of the foreign ladies ever tell you that I am a
fierce-looking old woman?" I was very much surprised that she
should call me in and ask me such questions during her meal. She
looked quite serious and it seemed to me she was quite annoyed. I
assured her that no one ever said anything about Her Majesty but
nice things. The foreigners told me how nice she was, and how
graceful, etc. This seemed to please her, and she smiled and said:
"Of course they have to tell you that, just to make you feel happy
by saying that your sovereign is perfect, but I know better. I
can't worry too much, but I hate to see China in such a poor
condition. Although the people around me seem to comfort me by
telling that almost every nation feels very friendly towards
China, I don't think that is true. I hope we will be strong some
day." While she was saying this I noticed her worried expression.
I did not know what to say, but tried to comfort her by saying
that that time will come, and we are all looking forward to it. I
wanted to advise her on some points, but seeing that she was
angry, I thought I had better not make any suggestions that day,
but wait until I had another opportunity. I felt sorry for her,
and would have given anything in the world to help her by telling
what the general opinion of her was so as to let her know the
truth, which no one dared to tell her. Something told me to be
silent. I kept thinking all the time she was talking to me, and
finally made up my mind that the time was not yet ripe for me to
make any suggestion. I had grown to love her very much, so I
wanted to take care not to offend her; that would probably finish
my ambition. I wanted to study her first thoroughly and then try
to influence her to reform China.

I stood all the time while she was eating. She got up from the
table and handed me her napkin (this napkin was made of a piece of
silk a yard square, woven in many colors). One corner was turned
in, and a golden butterfly was fastened to it. It had a hook at
the back of this butterfly so as to hook on her collar. She said:
"I am sure you must be hungry. Go and tell the Young Empress and
the rest of the people to come and eat. You can eat anything you
want from these tables, so eat all you can." I was very, very
hungry. Just imagine, I had been up since 5:00 o'clock and had
only a light breakfast, and had walked a great deal. It was almost
noon when Her Majesty sat down at her table. She ate so slowly,
too. While I stood there talking to her I thought she would never
finish. She ate a good meal. The Young Empress stood at the head
of the table, and we all stood on either side. We did not like to
be forward, so we stood at the other end of the table. The food
was very much the same as the first day we were there. Her Majesty
came out from the inner room, had just finished washing her face
and hands, and had changed into another gown. This one was simple,
but very pretty. It was woven with pink and gray raw silks, which
gave it a changeable light whenever she moved. She came out and
said: "I want to see you people eat; why is it that you are
standing at the end of the table, the best dishes are not there?
All of you come over here and eat near the Young Empress." So we
moved from our end of the table to the other. Her Majesty stood
near me, and pointed to a smoked fish and wanted me to try it, as
it was her favorite, and said: "Make yourselves at home. You know
you have to fight your own battles here with this crowd. Of course
you can come and tell me if anyone does not treat you fair." Her
Majesty then went out, saying that she would walk a bit. I noticed
that some of the court ladies did not look pleased, seeing that
Her Majesty paid so much attention to us. I could see they were a
little jealous of me, but that did not worry me in the least.

After we got through our luncheon, I followed the Young Empress,
for it was all so new to me, and I did not know what I must
do--whether to join Her Majesty or not. After seeing that they
were jealous of me, I paid strict attention to everything, so as
not to make any mistake in doing my work and let them have the
satisfaction of laughing at me. I would not give them the chance.
I heard Her Majesty talking to the eunuchs who looked after the
garden, about some branches which ought to be cut down, saying
they were lazy. So we went to her. She said to us: "You see I have
to look after everything myself, if not, my flowers would be
ruined. I can't depend on them at all. I wonder what they are good
for. They ought to look around every day and cut down the dead
branches and leaves. They have not been punished for several days
and they are looking forward to it." She laughed and said: "I will
not disappoint them, but give them all they wish to have." I
thought these people must be idiots, looking forward to a
whipping, and wondered who would whip them. Her Majesty turned to
me and said: "Have you ever witnessed such an operation?" I told
her that I had, having seen the convicts being whipped at a
Magistrate's Yamen when I was a little girl living at Shansi (on
the Yangtsze). She said: "That is nothing. The convicts are not
half so wicked as these eunuchs. Of course they deserve a heavier
punishment when they are bad." Her Majesty said that I should
learn to play dice with her, as she never had enough people to
play with, so we went back to the same room where she had taken
her lunch. A square table was in the middle of this large room and
a little throne of Her Majesty's, facing south (her favorite
direction). Her Majesty sat on her throne and said to me: "I will
show you how to play this game. Do you think you know enough
Chinese to read this map?" I noticed a large map, the same size as
the table, and laid upon it, drawn in different colors. In the
center of the map was written the direction of the game. It said:
"This game is called the `Eight Fairies Travel across the Sea.'
The names are Lu Hsien, Chang Hsien, Li Hsien, Lan Hsien, Hang
Hsien, Tsao Hsien and Hain Hsien. These seven were masculine
fairies. Hor Hsien was the only lady fairy." This map was the map
of the Chinese Empire, and the names of the different provinces
were written on the drawing. There were eight pieces of round
ivory, about one inch and a half in diameter and a quarter of an
inch thick. The names of these fairies were engraved upon them.
This game could be played either by eight people or four people,
when each person had to take two fairies' places, instead of one.
A porcelain bowl was placed in the center of the map, to compare
the point by throwing six dice into the bowl. For instance, four
people play. One throws these six dice into the bowl and counts
the points on them. The highest that one could get was 36, and
should 36 be thrown the fairy should go to Hangehow to enjoy the
beautiful scenery. This person threw dice for Lu Hsien and had 36
points and placed this ivory piece of Lu Hsien on Hangehow upon
the map. The same person has to throw another time for another
fairy, so each person throws twice if four people play the game,
and once if played by eight. These different points count
different provinces. They are counted thus:--Six dice alike. One
pair in six dice, to three pairs. The lowest was the double 1, 2,
3. If any unfortunate fairy got this he should go on exile and be
left out altogether. Any one of the fairies that travelled round
the map to reach the Imperial Palace, the first, was the winner.

I read this to Her Majesty. She seemed to be quite pleased, and
said: "I had no idea that you could read so well. This game was my
own invention and I taught three Court ladies to play. I had a
very hard time teaching them. I also taught them how to read
Chinese in order to play the game, but it took them so long to
learn anything that I got quite discouraged before I got through
with them. I am sure you know how to play it now." I was very much
surprised to hear that these Court ladies were as ignorant as
this. I thought they must be excellent scholars, so did not dare
to show my knowledge of Chinese literature. We began to play the
game. Her Majesty was lucky. The two fairies held by her were way
ahead of ours. One of the Court ladies said to me: "You will be
surprised to see that Lao Tsu Tsung is always the winner." Her
Majesty smiled and said to me: "You will never be able to catch my
fairies." She said: "You are the first day here to play this game
and if any of your fairies beat any of mine I will give you a nice
present, so hurry up." I thought I could never get ahead of her
fairies, for they were so far ahead of mine, but I tried hard, as
Her Majesty told me to call out for the points I wanted. I did,
but it came out something so different that it amused her a great
deal. I had no idea how long we were playing this game. We counted
who came next, and that was one of my fairies, so Her Majesty said
to me: "I was sure you could not beat me, as no one could. Seeing
that yours are next to mine, I will give you the present just the
same." While she was saying this she told a servant girl to bring
her some embroidered handkerchiefs. This girl brought several
colored ones to her, and she asked me what color I preferred. She
handed me a pink one and a pale blue one, all embroidered with
purple wisteria, and said: "These two are the best, and I want you
to take them." I was just going to thank her by bowing to the
ground, but I found that my legs could not move. I tried hard and
succeeded finally, with difficulty. Her Majesty laughed very
heartily at me and said: "You see you are not accustomed to
standing so long and you cannot bend your knees any more."
Although my legs were sore I thought I had better not show it, but
smiled and told her that it was nothing, only my legs were a
little stiff, that was all. She said: "You must go and sit on the
veranda and rest a minute." I was only too glad to sit down, so I
went to the veranda and found the Young Empress sitting there with
several Court ladies. The Young Empress said: "You must be tired
standing so long. Come and sit near me." My legs were very stiff
and my back was tired. Of course Her Majesty did not know how
uncomfortable we were while she was sitting on her cozy throne.
Foreign attire is out of the question for the Imperial Palace of
Peking. I had hoped that Her Majesty would tell us to change into
our Manchu gowns. I noticed that she asked many questions every
day about foreign costumes, and she said: "The foreign costume is
not any prettier than ours and I should say they must be quite
uncomfortable round one's waist. I wouldn't be squeezed that way
for anything." Although she was saying such things she did not
suggest that we should give them up, so we had to wait patiently
for her orders. The Young Empress took her watch out of her
pocket, and said to me: "This game has lasted just two hours." I
said to her that it seemed to me longer than that. While we were
talking I saw our own eunuchs bringing four round boxes, made of
thin board, carried at each end of bamboo poles. They put them
down near where we sat, and one of them brought me a cup of tea.
When my mother and sister came the same eunuch brought another two
cups, and there were several Court ladies talking with us. This
eunuch did not give them any. I noticed at the other end of this
long veranda there were another two boxes, exactly the same as
these, and a big tall eunuch made tea and brought it to the Young
Empress in a yellow porcelain cup, with a silver saucer and a
silver top cover. He did not give any to the others.

I was puzzled when one of the Court ladies sitting next to me
said: "Would you mind telling Wang (our head eunuch) to give me a
cup of your tea, just to save me the trouble to go and get it from
the small room at the end of this long veranda?" I gave her such a
surprised look, for I did not know that this was our tea, but I
thought I'd just tell Wang to bring her a cup, and find out
afterwards the reason, for I would give anything in the world
rather than appear ignorant before those people. While we were
talking Her Majesty came out. Before she reached the veranda I got
up and told the Young Empress that Her Majesty was coming. I saw
her first because I sat facing her back hall. Her Majesty said to
us all: "It is almost three o'clock now, and I am going to rest a
while. Let us leave here." We all stood in a line for her to enter
her chair, and then we went to ours. It was quite a fast ride and
we got out of our chairs before arriving at the courtyard of her
own Palace. We walked ahead of her chair and formed into another
line for her to alight. She walked to her bedroom and we all
followed. A eunuch brought her a cup of hot water and another
brought a bowl of sugar. She took her golden spoon and took two
teaspoonfuls of sugar and put it into her cup of hot water, and
drank it very slowly. She said: "You know before one goes to sleep
or ever lies down, sugar water will quiet one's nerves. I always
take it, and find it very good indeed." She took the flowers off
from her headdress and I fixed them back in their boxes at once,
and placed them in the jewel-room. When I came out of this
jewel-room she was in bed already, and said to us: "You all go and
rest a while. I don't need you now."



CHAPTER EIGHT

THE COURT LADIES

 WE retired from her room, but I noticed that two of the Court
ladies did not come out with us. One of them said to me: "I am
glad that I can rest a bit to-day, for I have been sitting three
afternoons in succession." At first I did not know what she meant.
Then she said: "Oh, your turn has not come yet. We don't know
whether you received the order or not. You know two of us must
stay with Her Majesty during her afternoon siesta, to watch the
eunuchs and the servant girls." I thought that was the funniest
thing I had ever heard of, and wondered how many people would be
in her room. The Young Empress said: "We had better go at once and
rest ourselves, otherwise Her Majesty will be up again before we
get the chance." Of course I had not the least idea how long she
slept. So we went back to our rooms. I did not realize how tired I
was until I sat down in my room. I felt finished and awfully
sleepy at the same time, for I was not used to getting up at 5
o'clock. Everything was so new to me. As I sat there my thoughts
wandered to Paris, and I thought how strange it was that I used to
go to bed at 5 o'clock after the dances, and here I had to get up
at such a time. All the surroundings seemed new to me, seeing the
eunuchs running here and there waiting on us, as if they were
chambermaids. I told them that I didn't need them any more. I
wanted them to go out of the room so that I could lie down a bit.
They brought us tea and different kinds of candies, and asked what
else was wanted. I was just going to change into a comfortable
dress, when the eunuch came in and informed me that "Yo ker lila"
(visitors have come), and two Court ladies came, and another girl
of about seventeen came in. I had seen her that very morning when
I came to the Palace, busy working, but I was not introduced to
her. These two girls said: "We have come to see you and also to
find out if you are comfortable." I thought they were kind to come
and see me that way, but I did not like their faces. They
introduced this mean-looking girl to me and told me her name was
Chun Shou (Graceful Long Life). She did not look as if her life
would last long, being so thin and delicate. She looked sick and
worn out to me. I did not know who she was. She courtesied to me
and I returned to her, in a sort of half way. (I will explain
about the courtesy.)

(To Her Majesty, the Emperor and the Young Empress, we went down
and bent our knees, while we stood upright to the people of lower
rank than ourselves. In this case one must always wait while the
inferior courtesies first, and bend the knees a little bit in
return. This was the way I returned Chun Shou's courtesy to me.)
The two girls then said "Chun Shou's father is only a small
official, so she has not much standing at the Court. She is not
exactly a Court lady, but she is not a servant girl either." I
almost laughed right out, to hear such a funny statement, and
wondered what she must be. I saw her sitting down with the Court
ladies that very morning, so of course I asked her to sit down,
too. These two Court ladies asked me if I felt tired, and how I
liked the Empress Dowager. I told them that Her Majesty was the
most lovely lady I had ever seen, and that I already loved her
very much, although I had only been there a few days. They looked
at Chun Shou and exchanged smiles. They did that in such a
peculiar way that it annoyed me. They asked: "Do you think you
would like to live in this place, and how long do you intend to
stay?" I said I would love to stay long, and would do my best to
wait on Her Majesty, and be useful to her, for she had been so
kind towards us in the short time we had been there, and besides,
it was my duty to serve my sovereign and country. They laughed and
said: "We pity you, and are sorry for you. You must not expect any
appreciation here, no matter how hard you work. If you are really
going to do as you have said just now, you will be disliked by
everybody."

I did not know what they were talking about, or what their
conversation referred to. I thought this was so strange that I had
better put a stop to it, so I immediately changed the subject. I
asked them who dressed their hair, and who made their shoes for
them, as they had asked me. They answered my questions by saying
that their maids did everything for them. Chun Shou said to these
two girls: "Tell her everything about this Palace, and I am sure
she will change her mind when she actually sees things for
herself." I didn't like this Chun Shou, and her face didn't
impress me. She was a little bit of a thing, tiny head with thin
lips. When she laughed one could only hear the noise she made; no
expression was on her face at all. I was just going to say
something to them, so as not to give them the opportunity of
gossiping, but found they were too cunning. They noticed that I
tried every way to stop them, so they said: "Now let us tell you
everything. No one else will know. We like you very much and we
want to give you some warning, so as to be able to protect
yourself whenever you are in trouble." I told them that I would
take great care to do my work and didn't think that I would ever
get into trouble. They laughed and said: "That makes no
difference. Her Majesty will find fault." I could not believe
these things that they said, and intended to tell them that I
refused to hear such statements, but I thought I had better listen
to what they had to say first and not to offend them, for I never
believed in making enemies. I then told them that it would be
impossible for so sweet and kind-hearted a person like Lao Tsu
Tsung (the old ancestor) to find fault with such helpless girls as
we were, for we were her people, and she could do anything she
liked with us. They said: "You don't know, and have no idea how
wicked this place is; such torture and suffering one could not
imagine. We are sure that you think you must be happy to be with
the great Empress Dowager, and proud to be her Court Lady. Your
day hasn't come yet, for you all are new to her. Yes, she is
extremely kind to you just now, but wait until she gets tired of
you and then see what she will do. We have had enough, and know
what the Court life is. Of course you must have heard that Li Lien
Ying (the head eunuch) rules this Palace behind Lao Tsu Tsung's
back. We are all afraid of him. He pretends that he cannot
influence Lao Tsu Tsung, but we always know the result after a
long conversation consulting how to punish anyone. If any of us do
anything wrong, we always go to him and beg him to help us out.
Then he says he has no power to influence Her Majesty, and also
that he dare not tell her much, for she would scold him. We hate
all the eunuchs, they are such bad people. We can see very plainly
they are awfully polite to you because they can see that you are
in favor. To receive such rudeness from them, constantly, as we
do, is unbearable.

"Lao Tsu Tsung is very changeable. She may like one person to-day,
to-morrow she hates this same person worse than poison. She has
moods, and has no appreciation whatsoever. Even Chu Tzu, the Young
Empress (Chu Tzu means Mistress, that is to say she was mistress
of us all, for the Manchus were considered by the sovereign as
slaves) is afraid of Li Lien Ying, and has to be very nice to him.
In fact, we all have to be polite to him." They talked so long
that I thought they would never finish. About this time Wang came
in and brought tea for us. Suddenly I heard people howling in the
distance, so I asked Wang what was the matter. The girls were
listening also and a eunuch came flying in and told us Lao Fo Yeh
chin la (The Great Buddha wakes up). The girls got up and said we
must all go to see her, so they went. I was not at all pleased
with their visit, and wished they hadn't come, especially as they
told me such horrible things. It made me quite sad to listen to
the awful way they talked about Her Majesty. I loved her the first
day I was there, and made up my mind to forget everything they had
told me.

I was cross also because I didn't have time to change my clothes,
and had to go up to Her Majesty at once. I went into her bedroom,
and found her sitting upon the bed cross-legged, with a small
table placed on the bed in front of her. She smiled and asked:
"Have you had a good rest? Did you sleep at all?" I said that I
was not sleepy, and could not sleep in the daytime. She said:
"When you are old like me, you will be able to sleep at any time.
Just now you are young, and fond of play. I think you must have
been on the hills to gather flowers, or walked too much, for you
look tired." I could only say "Yes." The two Court ladies who had
just been talking nonsense about Her Majesty came in, to assist in
handing her the toilet articles. I looked at them, and felt
ashamed for them to face her, after having said so many
disagreeable things. Her Majesty washed her face and combed her
hair, and a servant girl brought her fresh flowers, of white
jasmine and roses. Her Majesty stuck them in her hair and said to
me: "I am always fond of fresh flowers--better than jade and
pearls. I love to see the little plants grow, and I water them
myself. I have been so busy ever since you came that I haven't
been able to visit my plants. Tell them to get the dinner ready
and I will take a walk afterwards." I came out of her room and
gave the eunuch the order. As usual we brought little dainties to
her. By this time Her Majesty was dressed and was sitting in the
large hall, playing solitaire with her dominoes. The eunuch laid
the tables as usual, and Her Majesty stopped play, and commenced
to eat. She asked me: "How do you like this kind of life?" I told
her that I very much enjoyed being with her. She said: "What kind
of a place is this wonderful Paris I have heard so much about? Did
you enjoy yourself while you were there, and do you wish to go
back again? It must be hard for you people to leave China for
three or four years, and I suppose you were all pleased when you
received the order to come back, after your father's term was
finished."

The only thing I could say was "Yes," because it wouldn't be nice
to tell her that I was awfully sorry to leave Paris. She said: "I
think we have everything in China, only the life is different.
What is dancing? Someone told me that two people hold hands and
jump all over the room. If that is the case I don't see any
pleasure in it at all. Do you have to jump up and down with men?
They told me that old women, with white hair, dance, too." I
explained to her about the balls given by the President, and all
the private dances, and also all about the masquerade balls, etc.
Her Majesty said: "I don't like this masquerade ball because you
don't know whom you are dancing with if they are wearing a mask."
I explained to her how carefully the people issued their
invitations, and that anyone who behaved badly could never enter
into high society. Her Majesty said: "I would like to see how you
jump, can you show me a little?" I went in search of my sister,
and found her busy talking to the Young Empress. I told her that
Her Majesty wished to see how people dance, and that we must show
her. The Young Empress and all the Court ladies heard this, and
all said that they also wished to see. My sister said that she had
noticed a large gramophone in Her Majesty's bedroom, and that
perhaps we could find some music. I thought that was a good idea,
and went to ask her for the gramophone. She said: "Oh, must you
jump with music?" I almost laughed when she said that, and told
her it was much nicer with music, as otherwise one could not keep
in time. She ordered the eunuchs to have the gramophone brought to
the hall, and said: "You jump while I take my dinner." We looked
over a lot of records, but they were all Chinese songs, but at
last we found a waltz, so we started to dance. We could see that a
lot of people were looking at us, who perhaps thought that we were
crazy. When we had finished we found Her Majesty laughing at us.
She said: "I could never do that. Are you not dizzy turning round
and round? I suppose your legs must be very tired also. It is very
pretty, and just like the girls used to do centuries ago in China.
I know that it is difficult and one ought to have any amount of
grace to do it, but I don't think it would look nice to see a man
dancing with a girl like that. I object to the hand around the
girl's waist; I like to see the girls dance together. It would
never do for China for a girl to get too close to a man. I know
the foreigners don't seem to think about that at all. It shows
that they are broader minded than us. Is it true that the
foreigners don't respect their parents at all-that they could beat
their parents and drive them out of the house?" I told her that it
was not so, and that someone had given her wrong ideas about
foreigners. Then she said: "I know that perhaps sometimes one
among the commonest class do that, and that people are apt to take
it wrong, and conclude that all foreigners treat their parents
that way. Now I see just the same thing done by the common people
in China." I wondered who had told her such nonsense and made her
believe it.

After we had taken our dinner it was just half-past five, and Her
Majesty said she would take a walk along the long veranda, so we
followed her. She showed me her flowers, and said that she had
planted them herself. Whenever Her Majesty went anywhere there was
always a lot of attendants following her, exactly the same as when
she went to the morning audiences. When we reached the end of this
long veranda, which took us a quarter of an hour to walk, Her
Majesty ordered her stool to be brought into one of the summer
houses. These summer houses were built of nothing but bamboo, all
the furniture being made of different shaped bamboo. Her Majesty
sat down, and one of the eunuchs brought tea and honeysuckle
flowers. She ordered the eunuchs to give us tea also. Her Majesty
said: "This is my simple way of enjoying life. I love to see the
country scenery. There are a great many pretty places which I will
show you and I am sure that after you have seen them you will not
like foreign countries any more. There is no scenery in the world
which can beat the Chinese. Some returned Ministers from abroad
said to me that the trees and mountains in foreign countries
looked ugly and savage. Is that true?" I concluded right away that
someone had wished to please her by saying things about
foreigners, so I told her that I had been in almost every country,
and had found lovely scenery, but of course it was different from
China. While we were talking Her Majesty said that she felt chilly
and asked: "Are you cold? You see you have your own eunuchs, they
are all standing around, and have nothing to do. Next time tell
them to carry your wraps along with you. I think that foreign
clothes must be quite uncomfortable either too warm or too cold. I
don't see how you can eat, having your waist squeezed that way."
Her Majesty got up and we all went on walking slowly towards her
own Palace. She sat down on her favorite little throne in the hall
and started to play solitaire. We came out on the veranda, and the
Young Empress said to us: "You must be tired, for I know you are
not used to doing such hard work all day long without stopping.
You had better wear Manchu clothes, because they are comfortable
and easy to work in. Look at your long train; you have to take it
up in your hands while walking."

I told her that I would be only too pleased to change the clothes,
but that not having received an order from Her Majesty I could not
make any suggestions. The Young Empress said: "No, don't ask
anything, and I am sure Her Majesty will tell you to change by and
by. Just now she wishes to see your Paris gowns, because she wants
to know how foreign ladies dress on different occasions. She
thought that some of the ladies came to the Garden Party dressed
in woolen clothes. We thought that foreign ladies were not so
extravagant as we are until we met Mdme. Plancon the other day. Do
you remember what Her Majesty said to you? `That Mdme. Plancon was
so different from many ladies she had met, and also dressed
differently.' " It was a chiffon dress, with hand paintings, which
Mdme. Plancon wore, which pleased Her Majesty very much. While I
was talking with the Young Empress all the electric lights turned
up, so I went to Her Majesty to see if she needed anything. She
said: "Let us play a game of dice before I go to bed." We began to
play the same thing as we had done in the afternoon. Her Majesty
won another game, this time it took only an hour to finish the
game. Her Majesty said to me: "Why can't you win once?" I knew she
wanted to tease, so I said that my luck was bad. She laughed and
said: "To-morrow you try to put your stocking on wrong side out;
that is a sure sign of winning." I told her that I would, and I
knew that pleased her. During the short time I was there I kept
studying her most of the while. I could see nothing would make her
happier than for me to obey her orders. Her Majesty said that she
felt tired, and that we must bring her milk. She said to me: "I
want you to burn incense sticks and bow to the ground every night
to the Buddha in the next room before I go to bed. I hope you are
not a Christian, for if you are I can never feel as if you are
mine at all. Do tell me that you are not." I did not expect that
question at all, and I must say that it was a very difficult
question to answer. For my own protection I had to say that I had
nothing to do with the Christians. I felt guilty at having
deceived her that way, but it was absolutely necessary, and there
was no other way out of it. I knew that I had to answer her
question at once, because it would never do for her to see any
hesitation, which would arouse her suspicions. Although my face
showed nothing, my heart stopped beating for a while. I felt
ashamed to have fooled her. The earliest training I had was never
to be ashamed to tell the truth. When Her Majesty heard me say
that I was not a Christian, she smiled and said: "I admire you;
although you have had so much to do with foreigners, yet you did
not adopt their religion. On the contrary, you still keep to your
own. Be strong and keep it as long as you live. You have no idea
how glad I am now, for I suspected you must believe in the foreign
God. Even if you don't want to, they can make you believe it. Now
I am ready for bed."

We helped her to undress, and I, as usual, put away her jewels,
and noticed she wore only one pair of jade bracelets to sleep. She
changed into her bed clothes and lay down between the silk covers
and said to us: "You can go now." We courtesied to her and
withdrew from her bedroom. Out in the hall there was on the cold
stone floor six eunuchs. They were the watchmen and must not sleep
at all during the night. In her bedroom were two eunuchs, two
servant girls, two old women servants and sometimes two Court
ladies. These people also must not sleep. The two girls massaged
her legs every night, and the two women were there to watch the
girls, the two eunuchs to watch the two old women, and the two
Court ladies to watch them all, in case they did any mischief.
They all took turns, and that was the reason why sometimes two
Court ladies must sit overnight when it happened that the eunuchs
were not reliable. Her Majesty trusted the Court ladies the most.
I was never more surprised in my life than when one of these six
eunuchs told me in the hall, for I had asked what they were all
doing there.

Later on one of the Court ladies said to me that it was customary
for them to take turns to attend at Her Majesty's bedchamber in
the morning to wake her up, and that I should take my turn the
next morning and my sister the following morning. While saying
this she smiled in a most peculiar way. I did not understand at
the time, but found out later. I asked her what I should do to
wake Her Majesty, and she said: "There is no particular way, you
will have to use your own judgment; but be careful not to make her
angry. It was my turn this morning. I knew that she was very
tired, having had a very trying time the day before, so I had to
make a little more noise than usual when waking her. She was very
angry and scolded me dreadfully when she arose, as it was rather
late. This very often happens when Her Majesty gets up late, as
she always says that we do not make enough noise to wake her.
However, I don't think she will do this to you, just now, as you
are new here; but wait until you have been here a few months."
What this Court lady said to me worried me quite considerably; but
from what I had seen of Her Majesty so far, I could not believe
that she would be angry with anyone who was doing her duty
properly.



CHAPTER NINE

THE EMPEROR KWANG HSU

 THE next day I arose earlier than usual and dressed in a great
hurry, as I feared I might be late. When I got to Her Majesty's
Palace there were a few Court ladies there sitting on the veranda.
They smiled and asked me to sit down with them as it was still too
early, being only five o'clock. I had been told to wake Her
Majesty at five thirty. The Young Empress came up a few minutes
later and we all courtesied and wished her "good morning." After
talking with us a few minutes, she asked if Her Majesty was awake
and which one of us was on duty that day. When I informed her that
it was my turn, she immediately ordered me to go to Her Majesty's
room at once. I went very quietly and found some servant girls
standing about and one Court lady, who was sitting on the floor.
She had been on duty all night. When she saw me she got up and
whispered to me, that now that I had come, she would go and change
her clothes and brush up a bit, and for me not to leave the room
until Her Majesty was awake. After this Court lady had gone, I
went near to the bed and said: "Lao Tsu Tsung, it is half-past
five." She was sleeping with her face toward the wall, and without
looking to see who had called her, she said: "Go away and leave me
alone. I did not tell you to call me at half-past five. Call me at
six," and immediately went off to sleep again. I waited until six
and called her again. She woke and said: "This is dreadful. What a
nuisance you are." After she had said this, she looked around and
saw me standing by the bed. "Oh! it is you, is it? Who told you to
come and wake me?" I replied: "One of the Court ladies told me
that it was my turn to be on duty in Lao Tsu Tsung's bedchamber."
"That is funny. How dare they give orders without receiving
instructions from me first? They know that this part of their duty
is not very pleasant and have put it off on you because they know
you are new here." I made no reply to this. I got along as best I
could that day and found it no easy matter, as Her Majesty was
very exacting in everything. However, the next time I managed to
divert her attention to things new or interesting in order to take
her mind off of what she was doing, and in this way had much less
trouble getting her out of bed.

My reader can't imagine how very glad we were to get back to our
rooms, and it was just 10:30 P. M. I was very tired and sleepy, so
I undressed and went to bed at once. I think that as soon as my
head touched the pillow I was asleep.

The following day there was the same thing, the usual audience in
the morning, of course busy all the time, which went on for
fifteen days before I realized it. I began to take great interest
in the Court life, and liked it better every day. Her Majesty was
very sweet and kind to us always, and took us to see the different
places in the Summer Palace. We went to see Her Majesty's farm,
situated on the west side of the lake, and had to cross over a
high bridge to get there. This bridge is called Tu Tai Chiao (Jade
Girdle Bridge). Her Majesty often took us under this bridge in a
boat, or we walked round on the border. She seemed very fond of
sitting on the top of this bridge on her stool and taking her tea,
in fact this was one of her favorite places. She used to go and
see her farm once every four or five days, and it always pleased
her if she could take some vegetables and rice or corn from her
own farm. She cooked these things herself in one of the
courtyards. I thought that was good fun, and also turned up my
sleeves to help her cook. We brought fresh eggs also from the farm
and Her Majesty taught us how to cook them with black tea leaves.

 Her Majesty's cooking stoves were very peculiar. They were made
of brass, lined with bricks. They could be moved anywhere, for
they had no chimneys. Her Majesty told me to boil the eggs first
until they were hard, and to crack them but to keep the shells on,
and add half a cup of black tea, salt and spices. Her Majesty
said: "I like the country life. It seems more natural than the
Court life. I am always glad to see young people having fun, and
not such grand dames when we are by ourselves. Although I am not
young any more, I am still very fond of play." Her Majesty would
taste first what we had been cooking, and would give us all to
taste. She asked: "Do you not think this food has more flavor than
that prepared by the cooks?" We all said it was fine. So we spent
the long days at the Court having good fun.

I saw Emperor Kwang Hsu every morning, and whenever I had the time
he would always ask some words in English. I was surprised to
learn that he knew quite a bit of spelling, too. I found him
extremely interesting. He had very expressive eyes. He was
entirely a different person when he was alone with us. He would
laugh and tease, but as soon as he was in the presence of Her
Majesty he would look serious, and as if he were worried to death.
At times he looked stupid. I was told by a great many people who
were presented to him at the different audiences that he did not
look intelligent, and that he would never talk. I knew better, for
I used to see him every day. I was at the Court long enough to
study him, and found him to be one of the most intelligent men in
China. He was a capital diplomat and had wonderful brains, only he
had no opportunities. Now a great many people have asked me the
same question, if our Emperor Kwang Hsu had any courage or brains.
Of course outsiders have no idea how strict the law is, and the
way we have to respect our parents. He was compelled to give up a
great many things on account of the law. I have had many long
talks with him and found him a wise man, with any amount of
patience. His life was not a happy one; ever since his childhood
his health was poor. He told me that he never had studied
literature very much, but it came natural to him. He was a born
musician and could play any instrument without studying. He loved
the piano, and was always after me to teach him. There were
several beautiful grand pianos at the Audience Hall. He had very
good taste for foreign music, too. I taught him some easy waltzes
and he kept the time beautifully. I found him a good companion and
a good friend, and he confided in me and told me his troubles and
sorrows. We talked a great deal about western civilization, and I
was surprised to learn he was so well informed in everything. He
used to tell me, time after time, his ambitions for the welfare of
his country. He loved his people and would have done anything to
help them whenever there was famine or flood. I noticed that he
felt for them. I know that some eunuchs gave false reports about
his character,--that he was cruel, etc. I had heard the same thing
before I went to the Palace. He was kind to the eunuchs, but there
was always that distinction between the master and the servants.
He would never allow the eunuchs to speak to him unless they were
spoken to, and never listened to any kind of gossip. I lived there
long enough, and I know just what kind of cruel people those
eunuchs were. They had no respect for their master. They came from
the lowest class of people from the country, had no education, no
morals, no feeling for anything, not even between themselves. The
outside world has heard so many things against His Majesty, the
Emperor Kwang Hsu's character, but I assure my readers that these
things were told by the eunuchs to their families, and of course
they always stretched it out as far as possible in order to make
the conversation interesting. The majority of the people living in
Peking get all kinds of information through them. I have witnessed
the same thing many a time during my stay at the Palace.

One day during the time of Her Majesty's afternoon rest we heard a
dreadful noise. It sounded just like the firing off of
fire-crackers. Such a noise was quite unusual in the Palace for
such things are not allowed to be brought into the Palace grounds.
Of course Her Majesty woke up. In a few seconds time everyone
became excited and were running to and fro as if the building was
on fire. Her Majesty was giving orders and telling the eunuchs to
be quiet, but no one listened to her and kept yelling and running
around like crazy people, all talking at the same time. Her
Majesty was furious and ordered us to bring the yellow bag to her.
(I must explain about this bag. It was made of ordinary yellow
cloth and contained bamboo sticks of all sorts and sizes and are
made to beat the eunuchs, servant girls and old women servants
with.) This bag was carried everywhere Her Majesty went, to be
handy in case of emergency. Everyone of us knew where this bag was
kept. We took all the sticks from the bag and Her Majesty ordered
us to go to the courtyard and beat the eunuchs. It was such a
funny sight to see all the Court ladies and servant girls each
with a stick trying to separate the excited crowd. On my part I
thought I was having good fun so I laughed and found the rest were
laughing too. Her Majesty was standing on the veranda watching us
but she was too far away to see well and with all that noise, we
knew she could not hear us laughing. We tried our best to separate
the crowd, but were laughing so much we did not have enough
strength to hurt any of them. All of a sudden all the eunuchs
became quiet and stopped talking, for one of them saw the head
eunuch, Li Lien Ying, followed by all his attendants coming
towards them. Everyone of them became frightened and stood there
like statues. We stopped laughing, too, and turned back each with
a stick in our hand, walking toward Her Majesty. Li Lien Ying was
having a nap, too, and had heard the noise and had come to enquire
what the trouble was and to report it to Her Majesty. It seemed
one of the young eunuchs caught a crow. (The eunuchs hated crows,
as they are considered an unlucky bird. The people in China called
eunuchs crows because they were very disagreeable. That was the
reason why the eunuchs hated them so.) They always set traps to
catch them and then tied a huge fire-cracker to their legs, set
fire to the cracker and then set the unfortunate birds free.
Naturally the poor birds would be glad to fly away and by the time
the powder exploded would be high up in the air and the poor bird
would be blown to pieces. It seemed this was not the first time
the eunuchs had played this cruel trick. I was told it always
delighted them so much to see blood and torture. They always
invited others to drink some wine with them to celebrate an
occasion such as this. This cruel deed was always done outside of
the wall of the Audience Hall but that day the crow flew towards
Her Majesty's own Palace while she was sleeping and the powder
exploded while the bird was passing the courtyard. After the head
eunuch had told Her Majesty what had happened, she was very angry
and ordered that this young eunuch be brought in and receive
punishment in her presence. I noticed one of the head eunuch's
attendants push the culprit out from the crowd. The head eunuch
immediately gave orders to lay this man on the ground and two
eunuchs stood on each side of him and beat him on his legs with
two heavy bamboo sticks one at a time. The victim never uttered a
word while this was going on. The head eunuch counted until this
man had received one hundred blows, then he gave orders to stop.
Then he knelt in front of Her Majesty waiting for her orders and
at the same time kowtowed on the ground until his head made a
noise on the stone steps, asking to be punished for his
carelessness and neglect of duty. Her Majesty said that it was not
his fault and ordered him to take the offender away. During all
this time the offender was still on the ground, and did not dare
to move. Two eunuchs each took hold of a foot and dragged him out
of the courtyard. We were all afraid even to breathe aloud for
fear Her Majesty would say that we were pretending to be
frightened at witnessing this punishment, at the same time when it
was over we would go and gossip about how cruel she was. No one
was surprised at what had happened, as we were accustomed to
seeing it almost every day and were quite used to it. I used to
pity them, but I changed my mind very soon after I had arrived.

The first person I saw punished was a servant girl, she had made a
mistake about Her Majesty's socks and had brought two which were
not mates, Her Majesty finding that out, ordered another servant
girl to slap her face ten times on each cheek. This girl did not
slap hard enough, so Her Majesty said they were all good friends
and would not obey her orders, so she told the one who had been
slapped to slap the other. I thought that was too funny for
anything and wanted to laugh the worst way, but of course did not
dare. That night I asked those two girls how they felt slapping
each other that way. The reason why I asked them was because they
were laughing and joking as usual immediately they were out of Her
Majesty's bedchamber. They told me that was nothing; that they
were quite used to it and never bothered themselves about such
small things. I in turn soon became used to it, and was as callous
as they were.

Now regarding the servant girls, they are a much better class of
people than the eunuchs. They are the daughters of Manchu
soldiers, and must stay ten years at the Palace to wait upon Her
Majesty, and then they are free to marry. One got married after my
first month at the Court. Her Majesty gave her a small sum of
money, five hundred taels. This girl was so attached to Her
Majesty that it was very hard for her to leave the Court. She was
an extremely clever girl. Her name was Chiu Yuen (Autumn's Cloud).
Her Majesty named her that because she was so very delicate
looking and slight. I liked her very much during the short time
that we were together. She told me not to listen to anyone's
gossip at the Court, also that Her Majesty had told her she was
very fond of me. On the twenty-second day of the third moon she
left the Palace, and we were all sorry to lose her. Her Majesty
did not realize how much she missed her until after she had gone.
For a few days we had nothing but troubles. It seemed as if
everything went wrong. Her Majesty was not at all satisfied
without Chiu Yuen. The rest of the servant girls were scared, and
tried their best to please Her Majesty, but they had not the
ability, so we had to help and do a part of their work so as not
to make Her Majesty nervous. Unfortunately, she stopped us, and
said: "You have enough to do of your own work, and I do not want
you to help the servants. You don't please me a bit that way." She
could see that I was not accustomed to her ways, for she had
spoken severely, so she smiled and said to me: "I know you are
good to help them so as not to make me angry, but these servants
are very cunning. It isn't that they cannot do their work. They
know very well that I always select the clever ones to wait on me
in my bedroom and they don't like that, so they pretend to be
stupid and make me angry so that I will send them to do the common
work. The eunuchs are worse. They are all afraid to take Chiu
Yuen's place. Now I have found them out, and I will only keep the
stupid ones to wait on me from now." I almost laughed when I
noticed that they all looked serious for a moment. I thought these
people must be really stupid, and not lazy, but I had dealings
with them every day and found them out all right. The eunuchs
don't seem to have any brains at all. They are such queer people
and have no feelings. They have the same mood all day long--I
should say they are in a cruel mood. Whenever Her Majesty gave an
order they always said "Jer" (Yes) and as soon as they got to our
waiting room they would say to each other: "What was the order? I
have forgotten all about it." Then they used to come to one of us
who had happened to be present when the order was given: "Please
tell us what the order was. I did not listen while Her Majesty was
talking." We used to laugh and make fun of them. We knew they were
afraid to ask Her Majesty, and of course we had to tell them. One
of the eunuch writers had to keep writing down the orders that had
been given during the day, for Her Majesty wanted to keep records
of everything. There were twenty eunuchs who were educated and
they were excellent scholars. These had to answer any questions
which Her Majesty happened to ask them about Chinese literature,
while she had a good knowledge of it herself. I noticed that it
pleased her a great deal if anyone could not answer a question, or
knew less than she did. She took delight in laughing at them. Her
Majesty was also very fond of teasing. She knew that the Court
ladies did not know very much about literature, so she used to try
it on us. We had to say something whether it was appropriate to
her questions or not, and that would make her laugh. I was told
that Her Majesty did not like anyone to be too clever, and yet she
could not bear stupid people, so I was rather nervous, and did not
know how to act for the first three weeks I was there, but it did
not take me very long to study her. She certainly admired clever
girls, but she did not like those who would show their cleverness
too much. How I won her heart was this way. Whenever I was with
her I used to fix my whole attention on her and watched her very
closely (not staring, for she hated that) and always carried out
her orders properly. I noticed another thing, and that was that
whenever she wanted anything to be brought to her, such as
cigarettes, handkerchief, etc., she would only look at the article
and then look at anyone who happened to be there at the time.
(There was always a table in the room, on which everything she
needed for the day was placed.) I got so used to her habits that
after a short time I knew just what she wanted by looking at her
eyes, and I was very seldom mistaken. This pleased her a great
deal. She was strong-minded, and would always act the way she
thought was right, and had perfect confidence in herself. At times
I have seen her looking very sad. She had strong emotions, but her
will was stronger. She could control herself beautifully, and yet
she liked people to sympathize with her--only by actions, not by
words, for she did not like anyone to know her thoughts. I am sure
my readers will think how hard it was to be the Court lady of Her
Majesty, the Empress Dowager of China, but on the contrary I
enjoyed myself very much, as she was so interesting, and I found
that she was not at all difficult to please.

The first day of the fourth moon Her Majesty was worried over the
lack of rain. She prayed every day after the audience for ten
days, without any result. Every one of us kept very quiet. Her
Majesty did not even give any orders that day, and spoke to no
one. I noticed that the eunuchs were scared, so we went without
our luncheon. I worked so hard that morning, and was so hungry--in
fact all the Court ladies were. I felt sorry for Her Majesty.
Finally she told me I could go, as she wanted to rest a while, so
we came back to our own quarters. I questioned our own eunuch Wang
as to why Her Majesty was worrying about rain, for we were having
lovely weather then, day after day. He told me that Lao Fo Yeh
(Old Buddha) was worried for the poor farmers, as all their crops
were dead without rain for so long. Wang also reminded me that it
had not rained once since I came to live at the Palace. I did not
realize that it was so long as two months and seven days, and on
the other hand it seemed to me longer than that, for the life was
very nice and pleasant, and Her Majesty was very kind to me, as if
she had known me for years already. Her Majesty took very little
food at dinner that night. There was not a sound anywhere, and
everyone kept quiet. The Young Empress told us to eat as fast as
we could, which puzzled me. When we came back to our waiting room,
the Young Empress said to me that Her Majesty was very much
worried for the poor farmers and that she would pray for rain, and
stop eating meat for two or three days. That same night, before
Her Majesty retired, she gave orders that no pigs were to be
slaughtered within the gates of Peking. The reason of this was
that by sacrificing ourselves by not eating meat the Gods would
have pity on us and send rain. She also gave orders that everyone
should bathe the body and wash out the mouth in order that we
might be cleansed from all impurities and be ready to fast and
pray to the Gods. Also that the Emperor should go to the temple
inside the Forbidden City, to perform a ceremony of sacrifice
(called Chin Tan). He was not to eat meat or hold converse with
anyone, and to pray to the Gods to be merciful and send rain to
the poor farmers. His Majesty, the Emperor Kwang Hsu, wore a piece
of jade tablet about three inches square, engraved "Chai Chieh"
(the meaning being just like Chin Tan-not to eat meat but to pray
three times a day), both in Manchu and Chinese, and all the
eunuchs who went with the Emperor wore the same kind of tablets.
The idea was that this jade tablet was to remind one to be serious
in performing the ceremonies.

The next morning Her Majesty got up very early and ordered me not
to bring any jewels for her. She dressed herself in great haste.
Her breakfast was very simple that day, just milk and steamed
bread. Our own breakfast was cabbage and rice cooked together,
with a little salt. It was tasteless. Her Majesty did not talk to
us at all, except when giving orders, and so, of course, we kept
silent. Her Majesty wore a pale gray gown, made very plain, with
no embroidery or trimmings of any kind. She wore gray shoes to
match, not to mention her gray handkerchief. We followed her into
the hall where a eunuch knelt with a large branch of willow tree.
Her Majesty picked a little bunch of leaves and stuck it on her
head. The Young Empress did the same, and told us to follow her
example. Emperor Kwang Hsu took a branch and stuck it on his hat.
After that Her Majesty ordered the eunuchs and the servant girls
to do the same thing. It was a funny sight, and everyone did look
queer with a bunch of leaves on the head. The head eunuch came and
knelt in front of Her Majesty and said that everything was
prepared for the ceremony in the little pavilion in front of her
own palace. She told us that she preferred to walk, as she was
going to pray. It took us only a few minutes to cross the
courtyard. When we arrived at this pavilion I noticed a large
square table was placed in the center of the room. A few large
sheets of yellow paper and a jade slab, containing some vermilion
powder instead of ink, with two little brushes to write with. At
each side of the table stood a pair of large porcelain vases, with
two large branches of willow. Of course no one was allowed to
speak, but I was curious and wanted to find out why everyone had
to wear the willow leaves on the head. Her Majesty's yellow satin
cushion was placed in front of this table. She stood there and
took a piece of sandalwood and placed it in the incense burner
filled with live charcoal. The Young Empress whispered to me to go
over and help Her Majesty to burn them. I placed several pieces in
until she told me that was enough. Then Her Majesty knelt on her
cushion, the Young Empress knelt behind her, and we all knelt in a
row behind the Young Empress, and commenced to pray. The Young
Empress taught us that very morning how to say the prayer: "We
worship the Heavens, and beg all the Buddhas to take pity on us
and save the poor farmers from starving. We are willing to
sacrifice for them. Pray Heaven send us rain." We repeated the
same prayer three times, and bowed three times--nine times in all.
After that Her Majesty went to her usual morning audience. It was
much earlier than usual that morning for the Court was returning
to the Forbidden City at noon. His Majesty, the Emperor Kwang Hsu,
was to pray at the Forbidden City and Her Majesty always wanted to
accompany him wherever he went. It was nine o'clock in the morning
when the audience was over. She ordered me not to bring any jewels
for her to the Forbidden City this time, for she would not need
them at all. I went to the jewel-room and locked everything up,
and placed the keys in a yellow envelope, sealed it, and placed
the envelope among the others, and gave them to a eunuch who takes
care of these things. We packed all her favorite things. Her gowns
were the most important things to pack, she had so many and it was
impossible to take all. I noticed that the Court lady who was
looking after her gowns was the busiest amongst us. She had to
select gowns enough to last four or five days. She told me that
she had selected about fifty different ones. I told her that Lao
Tsu Tsung might stay at the Forbidden City four or five days, and
that she would not need so many gowns. She said it was safer to
bring many, for one was not sure what would be Her Majesty's idea
for the day. Packing at the Court was very simple. Eunuchs brought
many yellow trays, which are made of wood, painted yellow, about
five feet by four feet and one foot deep. We placed a large yellow
silk scarf in the tray, then the gowns, and covered them with a
thick yellow cloth. Everything was packed the same way. It took us
about two hours to pack fifty-six trays. These things always
started off first, carried by the eunuchs. His Majesty, the
Emperor Kwang Hsu, the Young Empress and all the Court ladies, had
to kneel on the ground for Her Majesty's sedan chair to pass the
Palace Gate, then we went in search of our own chairs. The
procession as usual was pretty, soldiers marching in front of her
chair, four young Princes riding on horseback on each side of her,
and from forty to fifty eunuchs also on horseback behind her, all
dressed in their official robes. The Emperor's chair and the Young
Empress' chair were of the same color as Her Majesty's. The
Secondary wife of the Emperor had a deep yellow chair. The chairs
of the Court ladies were red, and were carried by four chair
bearers, instead of eight like their Majesties. Our own eunuchs
also rode on horseback, behind us. We rode a long time, it seemed
to me, before I noticed the Emperor's chair begin to descend from
the stone-paved road, and we all followed him. I could see that
Her Majesty's chair was still going straight on, and we took a
nearer route to reach Wan Shou Si (The long life temple), to await
Her Majesty's arrival. We alighted from our chairs and started at
once to prepare Her Majesty's tea and her little dishes. I went to
help her to alight, and supported her right arm to mount the
steps. Her Majesty sat on Her Throne, and we placed a table in
front of her and my sister brought her tea. (The custom was, that
if she went anywhere, or during the festivals, we must bring to
her everything, instead of the eunuchs.) We placed all the
dainties in front of her, and then we went to rest. Her Majesty
always stopped at this temple on the way from the Summer Palace to
the Forbidden City.



CHAPTER TEN

THE YOUNG EMPRESS

 I THOUGHT of so many things while I was riding in my chair. It
was a glorious day. I felt sorry for Her Majesty, for she was very
quiet that day. Generally she was happy, and made everyone laugh
with her. I thought about the branches of willow, too, but could
not understand the meaning. I came out of the hall while Her
Majesty was dining with the Emperor, and found the Young Empress
sitting in a small room on the left side of the courtyard, with
several Court ladies. When they saw me they made signs for me to
go there. I found them all drinking tea, and the Young Empress
said to me, "I am sure you must be tired and hungry. Come and sit
near me and have a cup of tea." I thanked her and sat down beside
her and we talked of what we saw on the roads and how we had
enjoyed our long ride. She said: "We have still an hour's ride
before we reach the Forbidden City." She also talked about the
ceremony we had performed that morning and said that we must all
pray earnestly for rain. I could not wait any longer, so I asked
her what those branches of willow meant. She smiled and told me
that willow could bring water, as the Buddhist religion believes,
and that it was an old custom of the Court wearing willow leaves,
when praying for rain. She also told me that we must perform the
same ceremony every morning until the rain came.

We heard Her Majesty talking in the courtyard, and knew that she
had finished her luncheon, so we went in with the Young Empress,
and ate what was left, as usual. I found the food very nice
indeed, although it seemed rather funny without having meat. We
came out into the courtyard and saw that Her Majesty was walking
up and down. She said to us: "My legs are so stiff, riding in the
chair. I must walk a little before we leave here. Are you all
tired?" We told her that we were not tired, so she ordered us to
walk with her. It looked very funny to see us walking round and
round, Her Majesty in front, and we following her. Her Majesty
turned and smiled at us, and said: "We are just like horses taking
their rounds at a stable." It reminded me of a circus. Li Lien
Ying came and knelt down, and said that it was time for Her
Majesty to depart, in order to reach the Forbidden City at the
lucky hour she had selected, so we left Wan Shou Si. All the
chairs went very fast, and after an hour's ride we came near the
Palace Gate. We followed the Emperor's chair, taking a shorter
route, and noticed the gate was wide open. His Majesty, the
Emperor, and the Young Empress' chairs went in, but we had to
alight and walk in. There were small chairs waiting for us. (As I
explained before these little chairs were carried by eunuchs, with
a rope across their shoulders.) We came to the courtyard of the
Audience Hall where the Emperor and the Empress were waiting for
us. As usual His Majesty knelt in front. Behind him was the Young
Empress, and we knelt in a row behind her, waiting to welcome Her
Majesty to her Palace. She went to her room where the eunuchs had
placed everything in order long before her arrival. We held the
ceremony that afternoon and evening. After Her Majesty had retired
we came back to our rooms and found that everything was in order,
our eunuchs had made up our beds already. It was very nice to have
them, for we could not do our own work at all. I was so tired and
my limbs were stiff. I immediately went to sleep and did not
realize how long I had slept until I heard someone knocking at my
window. I got up and pulled the blind away. I noticed that the sky
looked dull and thought it was clouded. I felt happy, and thought
it might rain, and so relieve Her Majesty. I got dressed in great
haste, but much to my disappointment I saw the sunshine on the
opposite windows.

The Palace in the Forbidden City was so old, and built in such a
queer way. The courtyards were small, and the verandas very broad.
All the rooms were dark. No electric light. We had to use candle
light. One could not see the sky except by going into the
courtyard and looking up. I found that I had risen before the sun
was up, and I was not quite awake yet, and thought the sky was
clouded. I went to Her Majesty's own Palace and found the Young
Empress already there. She was always the first and always looked
so tidy I often wondered how early she had to get up. She told me
that I was not late, although Her Majesty was awake but not up
yet. I went into her bedroom and made my usual morning courtesy to
her. The first thing she asked me was about the weather. I had to
tell her the truth--that there was no sign of rain. Her Majesty
got up, dressed, and had her breakfast as usual, and told us there
would be no audience that morning. The Emperor went to the Temple,
sacrificing, and there was nothing important to attend to. We
prayed for three days in succession, but no rain came. I found
that Her Majesty was truly discouraged, and ordered each of us to
pray twenty times a day. We marked a spot with vermilion powder
and a little water on big yellow sheets of paper each time we
prayed.

On the sixth day of the fourth moon the sky was clouded. I ran to
Her Majesty's bedroom that morning to tell her the news, but found
that someone had told her already. She smiled, and said to me:
"You are not the first one to give me the good news. I know
everyone of you wanted to be the first to tell me. I feel very
tired today, and wish to lie down a little longer. You can go, and
I will send for you when I am ready to get up." When I went to
search for the Young Empress I found all the Court ladies there
also. They all asked me if I had noticed the rain. We came out of
the waiting room and found that the courtyard was wet, and after a
while it rained very fast. Her Majesty got up, and we prayed as
usual. Fortunately the rain did not stop, but came pouring down
all that day.

Her Majesty played solitaire with the dominoes, and I stood at the
back of her chair watching her. I saw that the Young Empress and
all the girls were standing on the veranda. Her Majesty saw them,
too, and said to me: "Go and tell them to wait in the waiting
room. Can't they see that the veranda is wet?" I went to them, but
before I had the opportunity of telling them anything the Young
Empress told me that the waiting room was wet, and that the water
had gone in. As I said before, this building was very old, and
there were no drains at all. Her Majesty's own Palace was high; it
had twelve steps, while our waiting room, which was on the left
side of her Palace, was built right on the ground, with no raised
foundation at all. While I was talking on the veranda just for a
few minutes, I got quite wet. Her Majesty knocked at her glass
window and told us to go in. Now I must explain that none of us,
not even the Young Empress could enter Her Majesty's Palace
without her orders except we had work to do there, or were on
duty. Her Majesty was very happy that day. She laughed and said
that we looked as if we had just been pulled out of the lake. The
Young Empress had on a pale blue gown, and the red tassel on her
headdress was dripping red water all over her gown. She smiled and
said to us: "Look at those girls; their gowns are all spoiled."
While we were talking, Her Majesty gave us orders for us to change
our clothes.

After they had gone, I went back to Her Majesty. She looked at me
and said: "You are wet also, only your clothes do not show." I had
on a cashmere dress which was made very plain. She touched my arm
and said: "How wet you are. You had better change, and put on a
thick dress. I think foreign clothes must be very uncomfortable;
the waist is too small and it seems to me out of proportion to the
rest of the body. I am sure that you will look much prettier in
our Manchu gown. I want you to change and put your Parisian
clothes away as souvenirs. I only wanted to know how foreign
ladies dressed and now I have seen enough. The Dragon Boat
Festival will be here next month and I will make some pretty gowns
for you." I thanked her by kowtowing to the ground and told her
that I would be only too pleased to change into Manchu clothes,
but having lived so many years abroad, and having always worn
foreign clothes, I had not had any made. We were planning to
change into Manchu gowns before coming to the Court, but we had
received orders that Lao Tsu Tsung wished to see us in foreign
clothes. I was very glad when I received that order as there were
several reasons why I wanted to wear Manchu gowns. First, the
Court ladies at the beginning treated us as outsiders. Secondly, I
knew that Her Majesty did not like them, and besides, we were very
uncomfortable living at the Palace in Peking, and made up our
minds that we must wear Manchu clothes, which were made for it. We
had so much work to do, and having to stand most of the time one
absolutely needed loose garments. Her Majesty ordered one of the
eunuchs to bring one of her dresses for me to try on, so I went
back to my own room, and took off my wet clothes and changed. I
tried on her gown, but it was too loose for me. The length was
quite all right and so were the sleeves. Her Majesty told one of
the eunuch writers to write down my measurements in order to have
a gown made for me, and said she was sure it would fit me. She did
the same thing for my mother and sister, and ordered our gowns to
be made at once. I knew she was pleased, as she told me what color
would suit me the best. She said that I should always wear pink
and pale blue, for they suited, and were her favorite colors, too.
She also talked about our headdress, and ordered some made the
same as worn by the other Court ladies. She said to me: "I know
you can wear my shoes, for I tried yours on the first day you
came, don't you remember? I must select a lucky day for you to
become a Manchu once more," she said this with a smile, "and no
more foreign clothes after that." She took her special book for
lucky days and hours, and studied it a little while, then she said
the eighteenth of that month was the best. Li Lien Ying, the head
eunuch knew how to please Her Majesty, and said he would give
orders to have everything ready for us at that time. Her Majesty
told us the way we must have our hair dressed, and what kind of
flowers we should wear, in fact she was very happy arranging to
make us into Manchus. A short while after she dismissed us for the
day. It rained for three days without stopping. The last day the
Emperor came back, and all ceremonies ceased. Her Majesty never
liked to stay in the Forbidden City, and I was not a bit
surprised, as I hated the place. We had to use candles to dress
by, in the morning, as the rooms were in absolute darkness even in
the middle of the afternoon. It rained so much that finally Her
Majesty said she would return to the Summer Palace the next day,
whether it was raining or not, and we were all very glad to go.

We returned to the Summer Palace on the seventh. It was a dull
day, but no rain. We packed everything in just the same way we had
done when we came, and stopped at Wan Shou Si and had our
luncheon. That day we commenced to eat meat again. I noticed that
Her Majesty enjoyed her meal very much. She asked me if I liked
the food without meat, and I told her that everything was nicely
done and that I enjoyed the food very much, although without meat.
She told me that she could not eat that kind of food and enjoy it,
and that if it were not necessary to make sacrifice she would not
have abstained.

The first garden party of the year was given by the Empress
Dowager to the ladies of the Diplomatic Corps, in the fourth moon.
This year Her Majesty desired to deviate a little from previous
custom, and issued orders that stalls should be arranged in the
garden, on a similar principal to a bazaar, on which were to be
displayed curios, embroidered work, flowers, etc., etc. These were
to be given as presents to the guests. The guests were: Mrs.
Conger, wife of the American Minister, Mrs. Williams, wife of
Chinese Secretary of the American Legation, Madame and
Mademoiselle de Carcer, wife and daughter of the Spanish Minister,
Madame Uchida, wife of the Japanese Minister, and a few ladies of
the Japanese Legation, Madame Almeida, wife of the Portuguese
Charge d' Affaires, Madame Cannes, wife of the Secretary of the
French Legation, the wives of several French Officers, Lady Susan
Townley, wife of the First Secretary of the British Legation, two
ladies from the German Legation, wives of German Officers, and
wives of a few Customs Officials. On this occasion Her Majesty
selected a most beautiful gown of peacock blue, embroidered all
over with phoenix. The embroidery was raised and each phoenix had
a string of pearls two inches long sewed into its mouth. Whenever
Her Majesty stirred, these strings of tiny pearls moved forwards
and backwards and it made a very pretty effect. Of course, she
wore her jade phoenix on her hair as usual and shoes and
handkerchief embroidered with the same pattern. My mother wore a
lavender silk gown, trimmed with silver braid, her hat was of the
same shade with plumes to match. My sister and myself wore pale
blue Chinese silk gowns with insertion and medallions of Irish
crochet and trimmed with tiny velvet bands. We wore blue hats with
large pink roses. All the Court ladies dressed in their most
picturesque gowns and it was a very pretty sight to see the
procession walking to the Audience Hall.

Her Majesty was in her happiest mood that morning and said to us:
"I wonder how I would look in foreign clothes; my waist is very
small, but wearing this kind of loose gown it would not show. I
don't think I would need to squeeze myself so tight, either, but I
don't think there is anything in the world prettier than our
Manchu gowns."

First the guests were received in audience by Their Majesties.
They were accompanied by the Doyen, Baron Czikann, Minister for
Austria, and an interpreter from each Legation. On entering the
Audience Hall all the guests stood in line and the Doyen presented
a short address to Their Majesties. This was translated to Prince
Ching, who, in turn, communicated it to the Emperor. The Emperor
made a suitable reply in Chinese which was translated by the
Doyen's interpreter. Then the Doyen mounted the steps of the dais
and shook hands with Their Majesties, the rest of the guests being
presented in turn. I was standing at the right hand of the Empress
Dowager and as each guest came forward, called out their names,
and the Legation which they represented. Her Majesty had a few
words for everyone, and when she saw a new face she would ask how
long they had been in China; whether they liked it, etc., etc. All
these conversations I interpreted for Her Majesty. As the guests
finished paying their respects they passed along and remained
standing in the Hall until everybody had been presented.

The interpreters, who did not take part in this ceremony but had
remained standing in the Hall until it was over, were then
conducted by Prince Ching to another part of the Palace, where
refreshments were provided for them. After they had gone out Their
Majesties descended from the dais and mixed with the guests.

The formal ceremony now being concluded, chairs were brought in
and everybody made themselves comfortable. Tea was brought in by
the eunuchs and after a few minutes' conversation, we all
adjourned to the refreshment room, with the exception of the
Empress Dowager, the Emperor, the Young Empress and the Secondary
wife. In the absence of Her Majesty, the Imperial Princess (The
Empress Dowager's adopted daughter) officiated as hostess, Mrs.
Conger sitting at her right and Madame de Carcer, wife of the
Spanish Minister, on her left. The food was all Chinese, but
knives and forks were provided for the use of the guests. During
the luncheon the Imperial Princess stood up and spoke a few words
of welcome, which I translated into English and French. After the
luncheon was over we adjourned to the garden where Their Majesties
were awaiting us. A brass band was playing European airs.

Her Majesty led the way around the gardens, passing the various
stalls on the way, where the ladies would stop and admire the
different articles, which were later presented to them as
souvenirs of the occasion. On arriving at a teahouse which had
been erected in the gardens, everybody rested and partook of tea.
Their Majesties then wished everybody good-bye and the guests were
then conducted to their chairs and took their departure.

As usual, we reported to Her Majesty everything that had taken
place and how the guests had enjoyed themselves. She said: "How is
it that these foreign ladies have such large feet? Their shoes are
like boats and the funny way they walk I cannot say I admire. I
haven't yet seen one foreigner with pretty hands. Although they
have white skins, their faces are covered with white hair. Do you
think they are beautiful?" I replied that I had seen some American
beauties when I was abroad. Her Majesty said: "No matter how
beautiful they are they have ugly eyes. I can't bear that blue
color, they remind me of a cat." After a few more remarks, she
ordered us to retire, saying that we must be tired. We were rather
used up and glad of an opportunity to rest, so made our courtesies
and retired.

We had been at the Palace more than two months, and I had had no
opportunity to see my father at all, who was quite ill at that
time. We did not know whether we could ask leave of absence from
the Court. I received letters from my father every day, telling me
to have courage, and to do my duty. My mother asked the Young
Empress if it would be correct to ask Her Majesty for permission
to go home for a day or two. The Young Empress told us that it
would be quite all right to do that, but she thought it would be
better if we could wait until after the eighth, for there would be
a feast on that day. The eighth day of the fourth moon every year
is the ceremony of eating green peas. According to the Buddhist
religion there is a hereafter which divides or grades, according
to the life that is lived on earth, that is to say, those who live
good lives go to Heaven when they die and those who are bad go to
a bad place to suffer. On this occasion Her Majesty sent to the
people she liked, each a plate containing eight peas, and we had
to eat them. The Young Empress told me that if I presented a plate
of peas to Her Majesty it would please her, which I did. This
meant: "May we meet in the hereafter" (Chi Yuen Dou). Her Majesty
was very happy that day. We went to the west side of the lake and
had our luncheon there. Her Majesty talked to us about the first
day we came to the Court, and then said to mother: "I wonder if Yu
Keng is any better. When will he be able to come to the Court? I
haven't seen him since he returned from France." (My father had
asked three months leave of absence from the Court on account of
his poor health.) My mother answered and said that he was feeling
better, but that his legs were still very weak, and he could not
walk much. Her Majesty then said to us: "Oh, I have forgotten to
tell you that if you wish to go home, you can ask permission. I
have been so busy lately, and forgot to remind you." We thanked
her and told her that we would like to go home and see how my
father was, so she gave orders that we should leave the Court the
next day. Then she asked me how long I would like to stay at home,
and of course I knew the custom, and told her that I was waiting
for her orders: "Would two or three days be enough?" We told her
that it suited us beautifully. I was so surprised when she
mentioned it to us, and wondered if anyone had told her of our
intentions, or if Her Majesty was a mind reader.

When she retired that afternoon I went to see the Young Empress,
who was always very nice and kind, and asked me to sit near her.
Her eunuch brought me a cup of tea. Her rooms were furnished
exactly the same as Her Majesty's, but everything looked extremely
dainty, and showed very good taste. We talked about the life at
the Palace for a long time, and she told me that she was very fond
of us, and so was Her Majesty. I told her that Her Majesty had
mentioned to us about going home for two or three days and that I
was surprised to see how thoughtful she was. She said that someone
had reminded Her Majesty to let us go home, for we had been at the
Court for more than two months. I found out afterwards that it was
the head eunuch Li who had heard that we were anxious to go. The
Young Empress said to me: "I want to teach you to be wise, that
is, you are ordered to leave the Court to-morrow, but Her Majesty
did not mention any particular hour. You must not talk about it to
anyone, and don't show that you are excited to go home. Don't
dress as if you are going out to-morrow, but be natural and do
your work as if you don't care about going at all. Don't you
remind her, in case she forgets to tell you to go, and come back
on the second day, which is the custom. It will show that you are
anxious to see Her Majesty, so you come back one day earlier than
the appointed time." I was so happy to get this information and
asked her if it would be all right to bring Her Majesty some
presents when we returned to the Court. She said that was just the
proper thing to do. The next day we did the same work, and went to
the Audience Hall with Her Majesty, as usual. After the audience
was over Her Majesty ordered her luncheon to be served at the
country teahouse. This teahouse was built in country style, and
right on top of her peony mountain, with bamboo and straw, and all
the furniture was made of bamboo also. They were beautifully made,
and the frames of the windows were carved into a line of
characters --Shou (long life), and butterflies, with pink silk
curtain hangings. At the rear of this exquisite little building
was a bamboo shade, with railings all around, hung with red silk
lanterns. The seats were built against the railings, so that one
could sit on them comfortably. This was supposed to be used by the
Court ladies as their waiting room. We played dice with Her
Majesty when luncheon was over. We played a very long time, and I
won the game that day. Her Majesty laughed and said to me: "You
have luck to-day. I think you are so happy to go home that your
fairies have helped you to win the game." As I mentioned before,
this game was called "Eight Fairies Going across the Sea." "I
think it is time for you to go now." While saying this she turned
and asked one of the eunuchs what the time was, and he answered
that it was half-past two. We kowtowed to Her Majesty, and stood
waiting for more orders. Then she said: "I am sorry to see you go
although I know you are coming back within two or three days. I
know I shall miss you." To my mother she said: "Tell Yu Keng to
take care of his health and get well soon. I have ordered four
eunuchs to accompany you, and am sending some of my own rice for
him." We had to kowtow again in thanking Her Majesty for her
kindness and finally she said: "Nemen tzowba" (you can go now).

We withdrew, and found the Young Empress on the veranda. We
courtesied to her, and said good-bye to the Court ladies and came
to our rooms to get ready to start. Our eunuchs were very good,
and had everything packed up ready for us. We gave ten taels to
each of our eunuchs, for that was the custom, and gave four taels
to each chair bearer of the Palace. When we arrived at the Palace
Gate our own chairs were waiting for us. We said good-bye to our
eunuchs. Strange to say they seemed attached to us and told us to
come back soon. The four eunuchs ordered by Her Majesty to see us
home were there, and as soon as we got into our chairs I saw them
riding on horseback beside us. It seemed to me just like a dream
the two months I had spent at the Court, and I must say I felt
very sorry to leave Her Majesty, but at the same time I wanted
very much to see my father. We got home after a two hours' ride,
and found him looking much better, and one can imagine how happy
he was to see us. The four eunuchs came into our parlor, and
placed the yellow bag of rice on the table. My father thanked Her
Majesty by kowtowing to the ground. We gave these eunuchs each a
little present, and they departed.

I told my father about my life at the Palace, and how very kind
Her Majesty was to me. He asked me if I could influence Her
Majesty to reform some day, and hoped he would live to see it.
Somehow or other I had the idea that I could and promised him that
I would try my best.

Her Majesty sent two eunuchs to see us the next morning, and also
sent us food and fruits. They told us that Her Majesty missed us,
and had told them to ask if we missed her. We told these eunuchs
that we were returning to the Court the next day. We stayed at
home only two days and a great many people came to see us, and
kept us busy all the time. My father suggested that we should
start from the house at about 3:00 A. M., so as to get to the
Summer Palace before Her Majesty was up. We left our house at 3:00
A. M. in total darkness, just like we had two months before. What
a change. I thought I was the happiest girl in the world. I was
told by many people, especially by the Young Empress, that Her
Majesty was extremely fond of me. I had also heard that she did
not care for young people at all. Although I was happy, I noticed
that some of the Court ladies did not like me, and they made me
uncomfortable on many occasions by not telling me just the way Her
Majesty wanted the work to be done. They smiled to each other
whenever Her Majesty was saying to my mother that she liked me,
and that I was always careful in doing anything that pleased her.
I knew I was going to see those people again. However, I made up
my mind to fight my battles alone. I only wished to be useful to
Her Majesty, and would not take any notice of them.

It was a little after five o'clock when we reached the Summer
Palace. Our own eunuchs were very happy to see us again and told
us that Her Majesty was not up yet and that we had time to go to
our rooms, where they had some breakfast prepared for us. We went
to see the Young Empress first, and found she was ready to go to
Her Majesty's Palace. She was also very glad to see us, and told
us that our Manchu costumes were all ready, and that she had seen
them and they were perfectly lovely. We were very hungry, and
enjoyed our breakfast immensely. After that we went to see Her
Majesty. She was awake, so we went into her bedroom. We greeted
her the same way that we did every morning, and kowtowed to her
and thanked her for all the things she had sent us while we were
at home. She sat up on the bed, smiled, and said: "Are you glad to
come back? I know everyone who comes to me and stays for a while
does not like to go away from here any more. I am glad to see you
(to my mother). How is Yu Keng?" My mother told her that my father
was much better. She asked us what we did for those two days,
staying at home. She also wanted to know whether we still
remembered which day she had chosen for us to change into our
Manchu costume. We told her we knew the date, and were looking
forward to it. The eunuchs brought in three large yellow trays,
full of beautiful gowns, shoes, white silk socks, handkerchiefs,
bags for nuts, in fact the whole set, including the gu'un dzan
(Manchu headdress). We kowtowed to her, and told her we were very
much pleased with everything she had given us. Her Majesty told
the eunuchs to bring everything out for us to see. She said to us:
"You see I give you one full official dress, one set of Chao Chu
(amber heads), two embroidered gowns, four ordinary gowns for
everyday wear, and two gowns for Chi Chen wear (the anniversary of
the death of an Emperor or Empress), one sky blue, the other
mauve, with very little trimming. I also have a lot of underwear
for you." I was excited and told Her Majesty that I would like to
commence to dress up at once. She smiled, and said: "You must wait
until the day comes, the lucky day I have selected for you. You
must try to fix your hair first, which is the most difficult thing
to do. Ask the Young Empress to teach you." Although she told me
to wait, I knew she was pleased to see that I showed so much
enthusiasm. She asked me the first day when we came to the Court
why my hair was so curly. I showed her that I curled it with
paper, and she teased me ever afterwards. She also said that I
could not pull my hair straight in time to wear Manchu clothes,
that everyone would laugh at me, and how ugly I would look. That
night one Court lady came over to me while I was sitting on the
veranda and said: "I wonder if you will look nice in Manchu
dress?" I told her I only wanted to look natural. "You have lived
so many years abroad we consider you are a foreigner to us." I
told her that as long as Her Majesty considered I was one of her
own, I would be satisfied and that she need not worry herself
about me. I knew they were jealous of us, so I went in search of
the Young Empress and left this girl alone. We were talking with
the Young Empress in the waiting room, and this girl came in and
sat near me, smiling to herself most of the time. One of the
servant girls was fixing some fresh flowers for Her Majesty. She
looked at her and asked her why she was smiling. The Young Empress
saw, and asked her the same question. She would not answer, but
kept on smiling all the time. At this moment a eunuch came and
said that Her Majesty wanted me. I afterwards tried to find out
what she had told the Young Empress but could not. Several days
passed very quietly. Her Majesty was happy, and so was I. One day
the Young Empress reminded us that we should make all preparations
in order to be able to dress ourselves properly on the eighteenth,
as the time was getting short--only two days left. That night,
after Her Majesty had retired, I went to my own room and fixed my
headdress on and went to see the Young Empress. She said that I
looked very nice, and that she was sure Her Majesty would like me
better in Manchu costume. I told her that I used to wear Manchu
dress when I was a little girl, before we went to Europe, and of
course I knew how to put it on. I also told her that I could not
understand why these girls looked upon me as a foreigner. She said
that they only showed their ignorance, and that they were jealous
of me and I should not pay any attention to them at all.



CHAPTER ELEVEN

OUR COSTUMES

 THE next day we got up earlier than usual and dressed ourselves
in our new gowns. I could not believe my own eyes, and asked
several times whether that was myself or not. I found that I
looked all right, although I hadn't been wearing this sort of
costume for so long. They seemed to think that we would look
awkward. Our own eunuchs were delighted to see us dressed that
way. The Young Empress came in while passing our rooms on her way
to the Empress Dowager's Palace, and waited for us to go with her.
When we arrived at the waiting room a lot of people came in and
looked at us, and talked so much about us, that it made me feel
rather shy. Everyone told us that we looked much better that way
than in foreign clothes, except the Emperor Kwang Hsu. He said to
me: "I think your Parisian gowns are far prettier than this." I
smiled and said nothing. He shook his head at me, and went into
Her Majesty's bedroom. Li Lien Ying came and saw us, and was very
much excited and told me to go and see Her Majesty at once. I told
him that everyone was looking at us, as if we were curios. He
said: "You don't know how nice you look now, and I wish that you
would not wear foreign clothes at all." Her Majesty laughed so
loud when she saw us that it made me uncomfortable, for I was
afraid we looked unnatural to her. She said: "I cannot believe you
are the same girls. Just look at yourselves in this looking-
glass." She pointed to a large mirror in her room. "See how you
have changed. I feel that you belong to me now. I must have some
more gowns made for you." Then Li Lien Ying said that the
twenty-fourth would be the first day of the Summer. On that day
everyone would begin to wear jade hairpins instead of gold, and we
had none. Her Majesty said to Li: "I am very glad you told me
that. I must give them each a jade hairpin after having asked them
to change into Manchu dress." Li went away and came back with a
box of hairpins of pure green jade. Her Majesty took a beautiful
one and handed it to my mother and told her that that pin had been
worn by three Empresses. She took two very nice ones, and gave one
to me and one to my sister. She told us that these two were a
pair, and that the other Empress Dowager (the East Empress
Dowager) used to wear one, and that the other was worn by herself
when she was young. I felt ashamed that Her Majesty had given us
so many presents and I had done nothing for her in any way.
However, we thanked her most sincerely, and showed our
appreciation. She said: "I look upon you as my own people, and the
gowns I have made for you are the very best. I have also decided
to let you wear the full Court dress, the same as one of the
Princesses. You are my Court lady, so you are equally ranked
here." Li stood there behind her and made a sign to us to kowtow
to her. I cannot remember how many times I kowtowed that day. The
headdress was very heavy, and I was not quite used to it; I was
afraid it might fall off. Her Majesty also said that she would
make our rank known to the Court on her seventieth birthday. I
will explain this. On every decade from the time of her birth Her
Majesty used to give special favors to anyone she liked, or to
anyone who had done something for her, and had been useful to her.
She could promote anyone at any time, but on these occasions it
was something special. The Young Empress congratulated us, and
said that Her Majesty was looking for a young Prince to marry me.
She was also very fond of teasing. I wrote to my father about all
the favors that had been given to me. He wrote me he hoped that I
deserved them all, and that I must do all I could to be useful and
loyal to Her Majesty as long as she lived.

I was very happy. Life was perfectly lovely at the Palace. Her
Majesty was always nice and kind. I noticed the difference in the
way she had treated us since (as she said) we had become Manchus
once more. One day Her Majesty asked me while we were sailing on
the lake in the moonlight, if I wanted to go to Europe any more.
It was a superb night, and several boats were sailing behind us.
In one boat several eunuchs were playing a kind of sweet music on
the flute and an instrument very much like the mandolin, called
Yeuh Chin (small harp, like the shape of the moon), with Her
Majesty singing very softly to herself. I told her I was satisfied
to be with her, and did not wish to go anywhere at all. She said
that I must learn to sing poetry and that she would teach me every
day. I told her that my father had made me study all kinds of
poetry and I had composed some myself. She looked surprised and
said: "Why didn't you tell me that before? I love poems. You must
read to me sometimes. I have many books here containing poems of
different dynasties." I told her that my knowledge of Chinese
literature was very limited, and I dared not let her see how
little I knew. I had only studied eight years. Her Majesty told me
that the Young Empress and herself were the only ones who were
familiar with Chinese literature at the Court. She told me that
she tried to teach the Court ladies to read and write some time
ago, but having found them so lazy she gave them up. My father
told me to be very careful not to show them what I could do until
I was asked, so I kept it to myself. After they found this out,
some of the Court ladies were very disagreeable to me, and this
went on day after day.

Except for this unpleasantness the fourth moon passed very
agreeably. The first day of the fifth moon was a busy day for us
all, as from the first to the fifth of the fifth moon was the
festival of five poisonous insects, which I will explain
later--also called the Dragon Boat Festival. All the Viceroys,
Governors and high officials, besides the Imperial Family, Court
ladies and eunuchs, all offer Her Majesty beautiful presents. I
never saw such a lot of things as came into the Palace during this
festival. Each person who sent in presents must accompany them
with a sheet of yellow paper, and at the right lower corner the
sender's name must be written and also the word Kuai Jin, meaning
to present their gifts kneeling, also to write what the presents
were. The eunuchs took big yellow trays to bring them in. During
these five days everyone was busy, especially the eunuchs. I could
not count just how many people sent presents to Her Majesty. The
presents were of every kind, such as things for the household;
silks and jewelry of all kinds and description. A large part of
the presents were foreign goods of the ordinary kind. I also saw
lovely carved thrones and embroideries. Her Majesty ordered them
to be put away, and the foreign things to be kept in her Palace,
for those were new to her.

The third day of the fifth moon was the day for just the people of
the Palace to make presents. It was a most beautiful sight to see.
We were busy all night making preparations, and had to go and help
the Young Empress. The next morning we placed our presents in the
big courtyard in these big yellow trays. The Young Empress had her
trays in the first row. The presents from the Young Empress to the
Empress Dowager were made by her own hands. There were ten pairs
of shoes, silk embroidered handkerchiefs, little bags for betel
nuts, and bags for tobacco, all exquisitely done. The Secondary
wife of the Emperor Kwang Hsu presented about the same to Her
Majesty. The Court ladies' presents were all different, as we
could ask permission to go out shopping before the Feast. We could
not go out together, for one or two of us must be there at all
times, and it was very exciting to tell each other what we had
bought. We ourselves did not ask permission to go out of the
Palace, for we had our presents ready long before. Everyone seemed
to be talking about presents, whether Her Majesty would like them
or not. My mother, my sister and myself had written to Paris to
get some lovely French brocades, one set of furniture, French
Empire style. We had learned Her Majesty's taste already during
our short stay there, so including those presents we also gave her
fans, perfumes, soaps and some other French novelties. Her Majesty
always looked over everything, and noticed some of the presents
were of very poor quality, and wanted to know the sender's name.
The eunuchs and servant girls also made her good and useful
presents. Her Majesty would select the articles she liked the
best, and order the rest to be put away, and she might never see
them again. I must say that Her Majesty liked and admired some
foreign things very much, she especially loved the French fancy
brocades, for she was making new gowns almost every day. She was
also pleased with soaps and powder that would beautify the skin.
She always thanked us in a very nice way and said how very
thoughtful we were in selecting beautiful articles for her. Her
Majesty would also say something nice to the eunuchs and girls,
and that made everyone feel pleased.

The fourth day of the fifth moon was the day that Her Majesty gave
presents to us all, the different Princes, high officials, servant
girls and eunuchs. Her memory was something extraordinary, for she
could remember every one of the presents that had been given to
her the day before, and the names of the givers also. That was a
busy day for us. Her Majesty gave people presents according to the
way they gave her. We had yellow sheets of paper and wrote out the
names of those to whom she wished to give. That day Her Majesty
was very angry with one of the wives of a certain Prince because
her presents were the poorest. Her Majesty told me to keep that
tray in her room and said she would go over them and see what they
were. I knew she was not pleased, for she had a telltale face. She
told us to measure the silks and ribbons in that tray, and leave
it in the hall. The ribbons were all of different lengths, all too
short to trim a gown, and the dress materials were not of good
quality. Her Majesty said to me: "Now you look for yourself. Are
these good presents? I know very well all these things were given
to them by other people and they of course would select the best
for themselves, and give me what was left. They know they are
obliged to send me something. I am surprised to see how careless
they are. Probably they thought as I receive so many presents I
would not notice. They are mistaken, for I notice the poorest the
first, in fact I can remember everything. I can see those who gave
me things in order to please me, and those who gave because they
were obliged to. I will return them the same way." She gave the
Court ladies each a beautiful embroidered gown and a few hundred
taels, the same to the Young Empress and the Secondary wife. The
presents which she gave us were a little different, consisting of
two embroidered gowns, several simple ones, jackets and sleeveless
jackets, shoes, and flowers for the Manchu headdress. She said
that we had not so many gowns, and instead of giving us the money,
she had things made for us. Besides that, she gave me a pair of
very pretty earrings, but none to my sister, for she noticed that
I had a pair of ordinary gold earrings, while my sister had a pair
set with pearls and jade. Her Majesty said to my mother: "Yu Tai
Tai. I can see you love one daughter better than the other.
Roonling has such pretty earrings and poor Derling has none."
Before my mother could answer her she had turned to me while I was
standing at the back of her chair: "I will have a nice pair made
for you. You are mine now." My mother told her that I did not like
to wear heavy earrings. Her Majesty laughed and said: "Never mind,
she is mine now, and I will give her everything she needs. You
have nothing to do with her." The earrings she gave me were very
heavy. Her Majesty said that if I would wear them every day I
would get used to them, and so it proved that after some time I
thought nothing of it.

Now about this Feast. It is also called the Dragon Boat Feast. The
fifth of the fifth moon at noon was the most poisonous hour for
the poisonous insects, and reptiles such as frogs, lizards,
snakes, hide themselves in the mud, for that hour they are
paralyzed. Some medical men search for them at that hour and place
them in jars, and when they are dried, sometime use them as
medicine. Her Majesty told me this, so that day I went all over
everywhere and dug into the ground, but found nothing. The usual
custom was that at noon Her Majesty took a small cup filled with
spirits of wine, and added a kind of yellow powder (something like
sulphur). She took a small brush and dipped it into the cup and
made a few spots of this yellow paint under our nostrils and ears.
This was to prevent any insects from crawling on us during the
coming summer. The reason why it was also called the Dragon Boat
Festival was because at the time of the Chou Dynasty the country
was divided into several parts. Each place had a ruler. The
Emperor Chou had a Prime Minister named Chi Yuan, who advised him
to make alliance with the other six countries, but the Emperor
refused, and Chi Yuan thought that the country would be taken by
others in the near future. He could not influence the Emperor, so
he made up his mind to commit suicide and jumped into the river,
taking a large piece of stone with him. This happened on the fifth
day of the fifth moon, so the year afterwards, the Emperor got
into a Dragon boat to worship his soul, and throw rice cakes,
called Tzu Tsi, into the river. On that day the people have
celebrated this feast ever since. At the Palace the theatre played
first this history, which was very interesting, and also played
the insects trying to hide themselves before the most poisonous
hour arrived. On that day we all wore tiger shoes, the front part
of which was made of a tiger's head, with little tigers made of
yellow silk to wear on the headdress. These tigers were only for
the children to wear, and signified that they would be as strong
as a tiger, but Her Majesty wanted us to wear them also. The wives
of the Manchu officials came to the Court, and when they saw us
they laughed at us. We told them it was by Her Majesty's orders.

A register recording the birthdays of all the Court ladies was
kept by the head eunuch, and a few days before my own birthday
came around, the tenth day of the fifth moon, he informed me that
the custom of the Court was to make a present to Her Majesty and
said that the present should take the form of fruit, cakes, etc.,
so I ordered eight boxes of different kinds.

Early in the morning I put on full Court dress, and made myself
look as nice as possible and went to wish Her Majesty good
morning. When she had finished dressing, the eunuchs brought in
the presents and, kneeling, I presented them to Her Majesty,
bowing to the ground nine times. She thanked me and wished me a
happy birthday. She then made me a present of a pair of sandalwood
bracelets, beautifully carved, also a few rolls of brocade silk.
She also informed me that she had ordered some macaroni in honor
of my birthday. This macaroni is called (Chang Shou Me'en) long
life macaroni. This was the custom. I again bowed and thanked her
for her kindness and thoughtfulness. After bowing to the Young
Empress and receiving in return two pairs of shoes and several
embroidered neckties, I returned to my room, where I found
presents from all the Court ladies.

Altogether I had a very happy birthday.

I can never forget the fifteenth day of the fifth moon as long as
I live, for that was a bad day for everyone. As usual we went to
Her Majesty's bedroom quite early that morning. She could not get
up and complained that her back ached so much. We rubbed her back,
in turns, and finally she got up, though a little late. She was
not satisfied. The Emperor came in and knelt down to wish her good
morning, but she scarcely took any notice of him. I noticed that
when the Emperor saw that Her Majesty was not well, he said very
little to her. The eunuch who dressed her hair every morning was
ill, and had ordered another one to help her. Her Majesty told us
to watch him very closely to see that he did not pull her hair
off. She could not bear to see even one or two hairs fall out.
This eunuch was not used to trickery, for instance, in case the
hair was falling off, he could not hide it like the other one did.
This poor man did not know what to do with any that came out. He
was frightened, and Her Majesty, seeing him through the mirror,
asked him whether he had pulled her hair out. He said that he had.
This made her furious, and she told him to replace it. I almost
laughed, but the eunuch was very much frightened and started to
cry. Her Majesty ordered him to leave the room, and said she would
punish him later. We helped her to fix up her hair. I must say it
was not an easy job, for she had very long hair and it was
difficult to comb.

She went to the morning audience, as usual, and after that she
told the head eunuch what had happened. This Li was indeed a bad
and cruel man, and said: "Why not beat him to death?" Immediately
she ordered Li to take this man to his own quarters to receive
punishment. Then Her Majesty said the food was bad, and ordered
the cooks to be punished also. They told me that whenever Her
Majesty was angry everything went wrong, so I was not surprised
that so many things happened that day. Her Majesty said that we
all looked too vain with our hair too low down at the back of the
head. (This Manchu headdress is placed right in the center of
one's head and the back part is called the swallow's tail, and
must reach the bottom part of one's collar.) We had our hair done
up the same way every day, and she had previously never said a
word about it. She looked at us, and said: "Now I am going to the
audience, and don't need you all here. Go back to your rooms and
fix your hair all over again. If I ever see you all like that
again I am going to cut your hair off." I was never more surprised
in my life when I heard her speak so sharply to us. I don't know
whether I was spoken to or not, but I thought it well to be wise,
and I answered I would. We were all ready to go and Her Majesty
stood there watching us. When we were about five or six feet away
we heard her scolding Chun Shou (the girl who was neither a Court
lady nor a servant). Her Majesty said she was pretending she was
all right, and Her Majesty ordered her to go also. When we were
walking towards our own place, some of them laughed at Chun Shou,
which made her angry. When Her Majesty was angry with anyone, she
would say that we were all doing something on purpose to make her
angry. I must say that everyone of us was scared, and wondered who
would have dared to do that. On the contrary, we tried our best to
please her in every way.

But that day she was furious all day and I tried to stay away from
her. I noticed some of the eunuchs went to her to ask questions
concerning important matters, but she would not look at them, but
kept on reading her book. To tell the truth, I felt miserable that
day. At the beginning I thought all the eunuchs were faithful
servants, but seeing them every day, I got to know them. It did
not do them any harm to be punished once in a while.

The Young Empress told me to go in and wait on Her Majesty as
usual. She said that probably if I would suggest playing dice with
her, she might forget her troubles. At first I did not want to go,
for I was afraid that she might say something to me, but seeing
that the poor Young Empress spoke to me so nicely, I told her I
would try. When I entered Her Majesty's sitting room I found her
reading a book. She looked at me and said: "Come over here, I
would like to tell you something. You know these people at the
Palace are no good and I don't like them at all. I don't want them
to poison your ears by telling you how wicked I am. Don't talk to
them. You must not fix your hair too low down at the back of your
head. I was not angry with you this morning. I know you are
different. Don't let them influence you. I want you to be on my
side, and do as I tell you." Her Majesty spoke very kindly to me,
and her face changed also--not at all the same face she had that
morning. Of course I promised her that I would be only too happy
to do all I could to please her. She spoke to me just like a good
mother would speak to a dear child. I changed my opinion and
thought that perhaps after all she was right, but I had often
heard from the officials that one cannot be good to a eunuch, as
he would do all he could to injure you without any reason
whatsoever.

I noticed that day they all seemed to be more careful in doing
their work. I was told that when once Her Majesty got angry, she
would never finish. On the contrary, she talked to me very nicely,
just as if there had been no troubles at all. She was not
difficult to wait upon, only one had to watch her moods. I thought
how fascinating she was, and I had already forgotten that she had
been angry. She seemed to have guessed what I was thinking, and
said: "I can make people hate me worse than poison, and can also
make them love me. I have that power." I thought she was right
there.



CHAPTER TWELVE

THE EMPRESS AND MRS. CONGER

 ON the twenty-sixth day of the fifth moon, during the morning
audience, Prince Ching told Her Majesty that Mrs. Conger, the wife
of the American Minister to Peking, had asked for a private
audience, and would Her Majesty please mention a day. She told him
not to give any answer until the next day, just to give her time
to think it over. I was sitting behind the large screen,
listening, but the other Court ladies made too much noise, so Her
Majesty ordered them not to say a word during audience. I was very
glad myself, because I could listen to some of the interesting
conversations between the Empress Dowager and her Ministers. After
the audience, Her Majesty ordered her lunch to be served on the
top of the hill at Pai Yuen Dien (Spreading Cloud Pavilion). She
said that she preferred to walk, so we followed her very slowly.
To get to this place we had to mount two hundred and seventy-two
steps, besides ten minutes' climbing over rough stones. She did
not seem to mind the climbing part at all. It was the funniest
thing to see two little eunuchs on either side, to support her
arms, trying to keep pace with her. I noticed that she was very
much preoccupied, and did not speak to any of us. When we arrived
at our destination we were very tired and quite exhausted. Her
Majesty, who was a good walker herself, laughed at us. She was
always very much pleased when she excelled in games of skill or
endurance. She said: "You see I am old, and can walk much faster
than you young people. You are all no use. What is the matter with
you?" Her Majesty was very fond of receiving compliments. I had
been there long enough to know and had learned to say things which
would please her. She also hated anyone to pay her compliments at
the wrong moment, so one had to be very careful even in paying her
compliments.

This "spreading cloud" pavilion was a beautiful Palace. It had an
open space in front of the building, just like one of the
courtyards, with pink and white oleanders all over the place.
There was a porcelain table and several porcelain stools. Her
Majesty sat on her own yellow satin stool and was drinking her tea
in silence. It was very windy that day, although the sky was blue
with warm sunshine. Her Majesty sat there just for a few minutes,
and then said it was too windy and went into the building. I was
more than glad to go in, too, and whispered to the Young Empress
that I thought the wind might blow off my headdress. The eunuchs
brought the luncheon and placed everything upon the table. The
Young Empress made a sign for us to follow her, which we did. When
we came to the back veranda we sat down on the window seats. I
will explain about these seats. All the windows were built low at
the Palace, and on the veranda there was something like a bench
built along the window, about a foot wide. There were no chairs to
be seen excepting Her Majesty's thrones. The Young Empress asked
me whether I had noticed that Her Majesty had something on her
mind. I told her that perhaps she was thinking about the private
audience which Prince Ching had mentioned that morning. She said
that I had guessed right, and asked: "Do you know anything about
this audience? When will it take place?" I said that Her Majesty
had not yet given her answer.

By this time Her Majesty had finished eating and was walking up
and down the room, watching us eating. She came over to my mother
and said: "I am just wondering why Mrs. Conger asks for a private
audience. Perhaps she has something to say to me. I would like to
know just what it is so I can prepare an answer." My mother said
that probably Mrs. Conger had someone visiting her who wished to
be presented to Her Majesty. "No, it can't be that, because they
must give the list of names of those who wish to come to the
Palace. I don't mind the formal audiences, but I don't think that
I should have private ones at all. I don't like to be questioned,
as you all know. The foreigners are, of course, very nice and
polite, according to their own way, but they cannot compare with
us, so far as etiquette is concerned. I may be conservative in
saying that I admire our custom and will not change it as long as
I live. You see our people are taught to be polite from their
earliest childhood, and just look back at the oldest teachings and
compare them with the new. People seem to like the latter the
best. I mean that the new idea is to be Christians, to chop up
their Ancestral Tablets and burn them. I know many families here
who have broken up because of the missionaries, who are always
influencing the young people to believe their religion. Now I tell
you why I feel uneasy about this audience is because we are too
polite to refuse anyone who asks any favors in person. The
foreigners don't seem to understand that. I'll tell you what I
will do. Whenever they ask me anything, I'll simply tell them that
I am not my own boss, but have to consult with my Ministers; that
although I am the Empress Dowager of China, I must also obey the
law. To tell the truth, I like Madame Uchida (wife of the Japanese
Minister to Peking) very much. She is always very nice and doesn't
ask any silly questions. Of course the Japanese are very much like
ourselves, not at all forward. Last year, before you came to the
Court, a missionary lady came with Mrs. Conger, and suggested that
I should establish a school for girls at the Palace. I did not
like to offend her, and said that I would take it into
consideration. Now, just imagine it for a moment. Wouldn't it be
foolish to have a school at the Palace; besides, where am I going
to get so many girls to study? I have enough to do as it is. I
don't want all the children of the Imperial family studying at my
Palace."

Her Majesty laughed while she was telling us this, and everyone
else laughed, too. She said: "I am sure you will laugh. Mrs.
Conger is a very nice lady. America is always very friendly
towards China, and I appreciate their nice behavior at the Palace
during the twenty-sixth year of Kwang Hsu (1900), but I cannot say
that I love the missionaries, too. Li Lien Ying told me that these
missionaries here give the Chinese a certain medicine, and that
after that they wish to become Christians, and then they would
pretend to tell the Chinese to think it over very carefully, for
they would never force anyone to believe their religion against
their own will. Missionaries also take the poor Chinese children
and gouge their eyes out, and use them as a kind of medicine." I
told her that that was not true; that I had met a great many
missionaries, and that they were very kind-hearted and willing to
do anything to help the poor Chinese. I also told her what they
had done for the poor orphans--given them a home, food and
clothing; that sometimes they went into the interior and found the
blind children who might be useless to their parents, and when
they get them they have to support them. I know several cases like
that. These country people offer their deformed children to the
missionaries, as they are too poor to feed and take care of them.
I told her about their schools, and how they helped the poor
people. Her Majesty then laughed, and said: "Of course I believe
what you say, but why don't these missionaries stay in their own
country and be useful to their own people?" I thought it would be
of no use for me to talk too much, but at the same time I would
like her to know of the dreadful times some of the missionaries
had in China. Some time ago, two of them were murdered at Wu
Shuih, in June, 1892 (a little below Hankow), the church being
burnt down by the mob. My father was appointed by Viceroy Chang
Chih Tung to investigate the matter. After much trouble he caught
three of the murderers and, according to the Chinese law, they
were put to death by hanging in wooden cages, and the Government
paid an indemnity to the families of the murdered missionaries.
The year after, 1893, a Catholic church was burnt down at Mar
Cheng, on the Yangtse, near Ichang. The mob said they saw many
blind children at the church, who were made to work after having
their eyes gouged out. The Prefect of Ichang Province said it was
true that missionaries did get the Chinese childrens' eyes for
making medicine, so my father suggested having those blind
children brought into the Yamen and ask them. The Prefect was a
most wicked man, and was very anti-foreign also. He gave the poor
children plenty of food, and taught them to say that the
missionaries did gouge their eyes out, but when they were brought
in the next day they said that the missionaries treated them very
kindly and gave them a nice home, good food and clothing. They
said they were blind long before they became Catholics, and also
said that the Prefect had taught them to say that the missionaries
were cruel to them, which was not true. The blind children begged
to go back to the school and said that they were very happy there.

Her Majesty said: "That may be all right for them to help the poor
and relieve their suffering. For instance, like our great Buddha
Ju Lai, who fed the hungry birds with his own flesh. I would love
them if they would leave my people alone. Let us believe our own
religion. Do you know how the Boxer rising began? Why, the Chinese
Christians were to blame. The Boxers were treated badly by them,
and wanted revenge. Of course that is always the trouble with the
low class of people. They went too far, and at the same time
thought to make themselves rich by setting fire to every house in
Peking. It made no difference whose house. They wanted to burn so
long as they could get money. These Chinese Christians are the
worst people in China. They rob the poor country people of their
land and property, and the missionaries, of course, always protect
them, in order to get a share themselves. Whenever a Chinese
Christian is taken to the Magistrate's Yamen, he is not supposed
to kneel down on the ground and obey the Chinese law, as others
do, and is always very rude to his own Government Officials. Then
these missionaries do the best they can to protect him, whether he
is wrong or not, and believe everything he says and make the
magistrate set the prisoner free. Do you remember that your father
established rules in the twenty-fourth year of Kwang Hsu, how the
Chinese officials should treat the Bishops whenever they had
dealings with each other? I know the common class of people become
Christians--also those who are in trouble--but I don't believe
that any of the high officials are Christians." Her Majesty looked
around and whispered: "Kang Yue Wai (the reformer in 1898) tried
to make the Emperor believe that religion. No one shall believe as
long as I live. I must say that I admire the foreigners in some
ways. For instance, their navies and armies, and engineers, but as
regards civilization I should say that China is the first country
by all means. I know that many people believe that the Government
had connections with the Boxers, but that is not true. As soon as
we found out the trouble we issued several Edicts, and ordered the
soldiers to drive them out, but they had gone too far already. I
made up my mind not to go out of the Palace at all. I am an old
woman, and did not care whether I died or not, but Prince Tuang
and Duke Lan suggested that we should go at once. They also
suggested that we should go in disguise, which made me very angry,
and I refused. After the return of the Court to Peking, I was told
that many people believed that I did go in disguise, and said that
I was dressed in one of my servant's clothes, and rode in a broken
cart drawn by a mule, and that this old woman servant of mine was
dressed as the Empress Dowager, and rode in my sedan chair. I
wonder who made that story up? Of course everyone believed it, and
such a story would get to the foreigners in Peking without any
trouble.

"Now to come back to the question of the Boxer Rising. How badly I
was treated by my own servants. No one seemed anxious to go with
me, and a great many ran away before the Court had any idea of
leaving the Capital at all, and those who stayed would not work,
but stood around and waited to see what was going to happen. I
made up my mind to ask and see how many would be willing to go, so
I said to everyone: `If you servants are willing to go with me,
you can do so, and those who are not willing, can leave me.' I was
very much surprised to find that there were very few standing
around listening. Only seventeen eunuchs, two old women servants
and one servant girl, that was Sho Chu. Those people said they
would go with me, no matter what happened. I had 3,000 eunuchs,
but they were nearly all gone before I had the chance of counting
them. Some of the wicked ones were even rude to me, and threw my
valuable vases on the stone floor, and smashed them. They knew
that I could not punish them at that important moment, for we were
leaving. I cried very much and prayed for our Great Ancestors'
Souls to protect us. Everyone knelt with me and prayed. The Young
Empress was the only one of my family who went with me. A certain
relative of mine, whom I was very fond of, and gave her everything
she asked, refused to go with me. I knew that the reason she would
not go was because she thought the foreign soldiers would catch up
the runaway Court, and kill everyone.

"After we had been gone about seven days, I sent one eunuch back,
to find out who was still in Peking. She asked this eunuch whether
there were any foreign soldiers chasing us, and whether I was
killed. Soon after the Japanese soldiers took her Palace, and
drove her out. She thought she was going to die anyway, and as I
was not yet assassinated, she might catch up with the Court, and
go with us. I could not understand how she traveled so fast. One
evening we were staying at a little country house, when she came
in with her husband, a nice man. She was telling me how much she
had missed me, and how very anxious she had been all that time to
know whether I was safe or not, and cried. I refused to listen to
what she was saying and told her plainly that I did not believe a
word. From that time she was finished for me. I had a very hard
time, traveling in a sedan chair, from early morning, before the
sun rose, until dark and in the evening had to stop at some
country place. I am sure you would pity me, old as I am, that I
should have had to suffer in that way.

"The Emperor went all the way in a cart, drawn by a mule, also the
Empress. I went along, and was praying to our Great Ancestors for
protection, but the Emperor was very quiet, and never opened his
mouth. One day something happened. It rained so much and some of
the chair carriers ran away. Some of the mules died suddenly. It
was very hot, and the rain was pouring down on our heads. Five
small eunuchs ran away also, because we were obliged to punish
them the night before on account of their bad behavior to the
Magistrate, who did all he could to make me comfortable, but of
course food was scarce. I heard these eunuchs quarreling with the
Magistrate, who bowed to the ground, begging them to keep quiet,
and promised them everything. I was of course very angry.
Traveling under such circumstances one ought to be satisfied that
one was provided for.

"It took us more than a month before we reached Shi An. I cannot
tell you how fatigued I was, and was of course worrying very much,
which made me quite ill for almost three months. So long as I live
I cannot forget it.

"We returned to Peking early in the twenty-eighth year of Kwang
Hsu and I had another dreadful feeling when I saw my own Palace
again. Oh! it was quite changed; a great many valuable ornaments
broken or stolen. All the valuable things at the Sea Palace had
been taken away, and someone had broken the fingers of my white
jade Buddha, to whom I used to worship every day. Several
foreigners sat on my throne and had their photos taken. When I was
at the Shi An I was just like being sent into exile, although the
Viceroy's Yamen was prepared for us, but the building was very
old, damp and unhealthy. The Emperor became ill. It would take a
long time to tell you everything; I thought I had enough trouble,
but this last was the worst. When I have time, I will tell you
more about it. I want you to know the absolute truth.

"Now let us come back to the question of Mrs. Conger's private
audience. There must be something special, but I hope that she
will not ask for anything, for I hate to refuse her. Can you guess
what it is?" I told Her Majesty that there could not be anything
special; besides, Mrs. Conger considered herself to be a person
who knew Chinese etiquette very well, and I didn't believe she
would ask for anything at all. Her Majesty said: "The only
objection I have is that Mrs. Conger always brings one of the
missionaries as her interpreter, when I have your mother, your
sister and yourself, which I think should be sufficient. I don't
think it is right for her to do that; besides, I cannot understand
their Chinese very well. I like to see the ladies of the
Diplomatic body sometimes, but not the missionaries. I will stop
that when the opportunity comes."

The next morning Prince Ching told Her Majesty that the American
Admiral, and Mrs. Evans, and suite wished to be presented to her.
The American Minister asked two private audiences. He said he had
made a mistake by telling her that Mrs. Conger had asked an
audience for herself, the day before.

After the regular morning audience was over Her Majesty laughed
and said: "Didn't I tell you yesterday that there must be a reason
for asking an audience? I rather would like to meet the American
Admiral and his wife." Turning to us she said: "Be sure and fix
everything up pretty, change everything in my bedroom, so as not
to show them our daily life." We all said "Jur" (yes), but we knew
it was going to be a hard task to turn the Palace upside down.

It was just the night before the appointed audience. We started to
work taking off the pink silk curtains from every window, and
changing them for sky blue (the color she hated); then we changed
the cushions on the chairs to the same color. While we were
watching the eunuchs doing the work, several of them came into the
room, carrying a large tray full of clocks. By this time her
Majesty had come into the room, and ordered us to remove all her
white and green jade Buddhas and take some of the jade ornaments
away, for those things were sacred, and no foreigners should see
them, so we replaced them with these clocks, instead. We also took
away the three embroidered door curtains, and changed them for
ordinary blue satin ones. I must explain that these three curtains
were sacred, too. They were embroidered to represent five hundred
Buddhist deities, on old gold satin, and had been used by Emperor
Tou Kwang. Her Majesty believed that by hanging these curtains at
her door they would guard against evil spirits entering her room.
The order was that one of us should remember to place them back
again when the audience was over. We fixed every piece of
furniture in her bedroom. Her toilet table was the most important
thing. She would not let anyone see it-not even the wives of the
Officials who came in, so of course we had to put it in a safe
place, and lock it up. We changed her bed from pink color into
blue. All her furniture was made of sandalwood, also carvings on
her bed. This sandalwood, before it was made into furniture, was
placed in different temples, to be sanctified, so of course no
foreigner could see it. As we could not take this carving from her
bed, we covered it up with embroidered hangings. While we were
working Her Majesty came in and told us not to hurry in her
bedroom, because the audience the next day would only be for
Admiral Robley Evans and his staff, and they would not visit the
private rooms. The audience for Mrs. Evans and the other ladies
would be the day after. She said it was important to see that the
Audience Hall was fixed up properly. She said: "Place the only
carpet we have here in the hall. I don't like carpets anyway, but
it cannot be helped."

After we had finished, Her Majesty started to tell us what to wear
for the ladies' audience. She said to me: "You need not come to
the throne to-morrow, there will only be gentlemen. I will get one
of the Ministers from Wai-Wu-Pu (Bureau of Foreign Affairs). I
don't want you to talk to so many strange men. It is not the
Manchu custom. These people are all strangers. They might go back
to America and tell everybody what you look like." At the same
time Her Majesty gave orders for the Imperial Yellow Gown to be
brought in next day, for the gentleman's audience. She said that
she must dress in her official robe for this occasion. This robe
was made of yellow satin, embroidered with gold dragons. She wore
a necklace composed of one hundred and eight pearls, which formed
part of this official dress. She said: "I don't like to wear this
official robe. It is not pretty, but I am afraid I will have to."
She said to all of us: "You need not dress especially."

The next morning Her Majesty got up early, and was busier than
ever. It seemed to me that whenever we had an audience we always
had so much trouble. Something was sure to go wrong and make Her
Majesty angry. She said: "I want to look nice, and be amiable, but
these people always make me angry. I know the American Admiral
will go home and tell his people about me, and I don't want him to
have a wrong impression." It took her almost two hours to dress
her hair, and by that time it was too late for her usual morning
audience, so she proposed holding that after the foreigners had
gone away. She looked at herself in the looking-glass, with her
Imperial robe on, and told me that she did not like it, and asked
me whether I thought the foreigners would know that it was an
official robe. "I look too ugly in yellow. It makes my face look
the same color as my robe," she said. I suggested that as it was
only a private audience, if she wished to dress differently, it
would not matter at all. She seemed delighted, and I was afraid
lest I had not made a proper suggestion, but anyway I was too busy
to worry. Her Majesty ordered that her different gowns should be
brought in, and after looking them over she selected one
embroidered all over with the character "Shou" (long life),
covered with precious stones and pearls, on pale green satin. She
tried it on, and said that it was becoming to her, so she ordered
me to go to the jewel-room and get flowers to match for her hair.
On one side of the headdress was the character (shou) and on the
other side was a bat (the bat in China is considered to be lucky).
Of course her shoes, handkerchiefs and everything else were
embroidered in the same way. After she was dressed, she smiled and
said: "I look all right now. We had better go to the audience hall
and wait for them, and at the same time we can play a game of
dice." Then to us all she said: "All of you will stay at the back
of the screen during the audience. You can see all right, but I
don't wish that you should be seen." The eunuchs had laid the map
down on the table and were just going to commence playing dice,
when one of the high rank eunuchs came into the Hall and, kneeling
down, said that the American Admiral had arrived at the Palace
Gate, together with the American Minister--ten or twelve people
altogether. Her Majesty smiled and said to me: "I thought it was
just going to be the American Minister and the Admiral, and one or
two of his staff. Who can the rest of the people be? However,
never mind, I will receive them anyway." We helped her to mount
her throne upon the dais, fixed her clothes, and handed her the
paper containing the speech she was to give. Then we went back of
the screen, with the Young Empress. It was so very quiet, not a
sound anywhere, that we could hear the boots of the visitors as
they walked over the stones in the courtyard. We were peeping from
behind the screen, and could see several of the Princes mounting
the steps, conducting these people to the Hall. The Admiral and
the American Minister came in, and stood in a line. They bowed
three times to the Empress Dowager. The Emperor was also on his
throne, sitting at her left hand. His throne was very small, just
like an ordinary chair. Her Majesty's speech was simply to welcome
the Admiral to China. They then came up to the dais and shook
hands with their Majesties, ascending on one side, and retiring
down the other. Prince Ching took them into another Palace
building, where they had lunch, and the audience was over. It was
very simple and formal.

After the audience was over Her Majesty said that she could hear
us laughing behind the screen, and that maybe the people would
talk about it, and did not like it at all. I told her that it was
not myself who laughed. She said: "The next time when I have men
in audience you need not come into the Audience Hall at all. Of
course it is different when I have my own people at the morning
audiences."

Her Majesty did not go to her bedroom that afternoon. She said she
wanted to wait until these people had gone and hear what they had
to say. After a couple of hours Prince Ching came in and reported
that they had lunched, and that they were very pleased to have
seen Her Majesty, and had gone away. I must here explain that the
Admiral had entered by the left gate of the Palace. The middle
gate was only used for Their Majesties, with one exception, viz.:
in the case of anyone presenting credentials. Then they entered by
the center gate. The Admiral left by the same gate he had entered.
Her Majesty asked Prince Ching whether he had showed them around
the Palace buildings or not (this was in the Summer Palace), and
what they had thought about it. Did they say anything, and were
they pleased or not. She said to Prince Ching: "You can go now,
and make the necessary preparations for the ladies' audience next
day." That same evening Her Majesty said to us: "You must all
dress alike to-morrow, and wear your prettiest clothes. These
foreign ladies who are coming to the Palace may never see us
again, and if we don't show them what we have now, we will not
have another opportunity." She ordered us all, including the Young
Empress, to wear pale blue, also the Secondary wife of the
Emperor. She said to me: "If the ladies ask who the Secondary wife
is, you can tell them; but if they don't ask, I don't want you to
introduce her to them at all. I have to be very careful. These
people at the Palace here are not used to seeing so many people
and they might not have nice manners, and the foreigners will
laugh at them." Then she said to us again: "I always give presents
when ladies come to the Court, but don't know whether I will give
this time or not, for at the last audience I did not give anything
at all." Addressing me, she said: "You can prepare some pieces of
jade, in case I need them. Put them in a nice box and have them
all ready. Don't bring them to me until I ask for them." She said:
"We have talked enough now, and you can all go to rest." We
courtesied good night. I was only too glad to go to my own room.

The next morning everything went on very nicely and there was no
trouble at all. Her Majesty was well satisfied, for we had all
taken great care in fixing ourselves up. She said to me: "You
never put enough paint on your face. People might take you for a
widow. You will have to paint your lips, as that is the custom. I
don't need you yet, so go back and put some more paint on." So I
went back to my room and painted myself just like the rest of
them, but I could not help laughing at seeing myself so changed.
By the time I got to her room again, she said: "Now you look all
right. If you think that powder is expensive, I will buy some for
you." She said that with a laugh, for she always liked to tease
me.

By the time Her Majesty had finished her toilet, one of the ladies
brought a number of gowns for her to select one from. She said she
would wear pale blue that day. She looked over twenty or thirty
gowns, but found nothing which suited her, so she gave orders for
some more to be brought in. Finally she chose a blue gown
embroidered with one hundred butterflies, and wore a purple
sleeveless jacket, which was also embroidered with butterflies. At
the bottom of this gown were pearl tassels. She wore her largest
pearls, one of which was almost as large as an egg, and was her
favorite jewel. She only wore this on special occasions. She wore
two jade butterflies on each side of her headdress. Her bracelets
and rings were also all designed in butterflies, in fact
everything matched. Among her beautiful jewels, she always wore
some kind of fresh flowers. White jessamine was her favorite
flower. The Young Empress and the Court ladies were not allowed to
wear fresh flowers at all unless given to them by Her Majesty as a
special favor. We could wear pearls and jade, etc., but she said
that the fresh flowers were for her, her idea being that we were
too young, and might spoil fresh flowers if we wore them. After
she was dressed we went into the Audience Hall. She ordered her
cards to be brought in as she wanted to play solitaire. She talked
all the time she was playing, and said that we must all be very
nice and polite to the American ladies, and show them everywhere.
She said: "It doesn't matter now, for we have everything changed."
She said: "I want to laugh myself. What is the use of changing
everything? They will imagine we are always like this. By and bye,
if they question you about anything, just tell them that it is not
so, and that we change everything at each audience, just to give
them a bit of surprise. You must tell it some day, otherwise no
one will know it at all, and the trouble would not be worth the
while." It was a private audience for ladies, and Her Majesty did
not use the big throne, but was sitting on her little throne at
the left side of the Audience Hall, where she received her own
Ministers every morning; the Emperor was standing. A eunuch came
in, the same as the day before, and announced that the ladies had
arrived at the Palace Gate, nine in all. Her Majesty sent some of
the Court ladies to meet them in the courtyard, and bring them to
the Audience Hall, which they did. I was standing at the right
side of Her Majesty's chair, and could see them mounting the
steps. Her Majesty whispered to me, and asked: "Which one is Mrs.
Evans?" As I had never seen the lady, I answered that I could not
tell, but when they got nearer I saw a lady walking with the
American Minister's wife, and concluded that she must be Mrs.
Evans, and told Her Majesty. As they got nearer, Her Majesty said:
"Again that missionary lady with Mrs. Conger. I think she must
like to see me. She comes every time. I will tell her I am very
glad to see her always, and see if she understands what I mean."

Mrs. Conger shook hands with Her Majesty and presented Mrs. Evans
and also the wives of the American officers. I was watching Her
Majesty and saw that she was very nice and amiable, with such a
pleasant smile--so different from her everyday manner. She told
them she was delighted to see them. Her Majesty ordered the
eunuchs to have chairs brought in for the ladies, and at the same
time other eunuchs brought in tea. Her Majesty asked Mrs. Evans
whether she liked China; what she thought of Peking; how long she
had been there; how long she was going to stay, and where she was
staying. I was so accustomed to Her Majesty's questions that I
knew exactly what she would ask. Mrs. Conger told her interpreter
to tell Her Majesty that she had not seen her for such a long
time, and enquired about Her Majesty's health. Her Majesty said to
me: "You tell Mrs. Conger that I am in good health and that I am
delighted to see her. It is a pity that I cannot hold an audience
more frequently, otherwise I could see more of her." She
continued: "The Imperial Princess (her adopted daughter-daughter
of Prince Kung) will accompany them to lunch." This ended the
audience.

Lunch was served at the back of her own Palace building (Yang Yuen
Hsuen--the place where the clouds gather to rest). This room was
specially furnished as a banqueting room where refreshments could
be served. All the Court ladies went to the lunch, except Her
Majesty, the Young Empress and the Secondary wife. It had taken me
two hours to fix the table for the luncheon. Her Majesty ordered
that a white foreign tablecloth should be used, as it looked
cleaner. The eunuch gardeners had decorated the table with fresh
flowers, and Her Majesty gave instructions as to how the seats
were to be placed. She said: "Mrs. Evans is the guest of honor.
Although Mrs. Conger is the wife of the American Minister, she is
more of a resident, so Mrs. Evans must have the principal seat."
She also told me to arrange to seat everybody according to their
respective ranks. The Imperial Princess and Princess Shun (Her
Majesty's niece, sister of the Young Empress) were hostesses, and
were to sit opposite each other. We placed golden menu holders and
little gold plates for almonds and watermelon seeds; the rest all
silver ware, including chopsticks. Her Majesty ordered that
foreign knives and forks should be provided also. The food was
served in Manchu style, and was composed of twenty-four courses,
besides sweetmeats--candies and fruits. Her Majesty instructed us
that only the best champagne was to be served. She said: "I know
that foreign ladies love to drink."

I think I was the only one who was really happy to meet these
ladies, more so than the rest of the Court ladies, the reason
being that Her Majesty lectured them too severely, telling them
how to behave, so that they had grown to hate the very mention of
a foreign audience. While we were eating, a eunuch came in and
told me that Her Majesty was waiting at her private Palace, and
that I should bring these ladies there after the lunch was over.
So when we had finished we entered her own Palace and found her
waiting there for us. She got up and told me to ask Mrs. Evans
whether she had had anything to eat--that the food was not very
good. (This is a custom with the Chinese when entertaining, always
to underrate the food.) She said that she would like to show Mrs.
Evans her private apartments, so that she could form some idea of
the way we lived, so she took Mrs. Evans to one of her bedrooms.
She invited Mrs. Evans and Mrs. Conger to sit down, and the
eunuchs brought in tea, as usual. Her Majesty asked Mrs. Evans to
stay a little while in Peking, and to visit the different temples.
She said: "Our country, although very old, has not such fine
buildings as there are in America. I suppose you will find
everything very strange. I am rather too old now, otherwise I
would like to travel around the world. I have read much about
different countries, but of course there is nothing like visiting
the different places and seeing them yourself. However, one cannot
tell. I may be able to go after all, by and bye, but I am afraid
to leave my own country. By the time I returned I should not know
the place any more, I'm afraid. Here everything seems to depend on
me. Our Emperor is quite young."

She then turned and ordered us to take these ladies to visit the
different buildings of the Palace, also the famous temple of the
King of Dragons. This is on a little island in the center of the
lake of the Summer Palace. Mrs. Conger said that she had something
to ask Her Majesty, and told the Missionary lady to proceed. While
Mrs. Conger was speaking to this lady Her Majesty became rather
impatient as she wanted to know what they were talking about, so
she asked me. It was very hard for me to listen to both of the
ladies and to Her Majesty at the same time. The only words I heard
were: "The portrait," so I guessed the rest. Before I had a chance
to tell Her Majesty this Missionary lady said: "Mrs. Conger has
come with the special object of asking permission to have Her
Majesty's portrait painted by an American lady artist, Miss Carl,
as she is desirous of sending it to the St. Louis Exhibition, in
order that the American people may form some idea of what a
beautiful lady the Empress Dowager of China is." Miss Carl is the
sister of Mr. F. Carl who was for so many years Commissioner of
Customs in Chefoo.

Her Majesty looked surprised, for she had been listening very
carefully whilst this lady was talking. She did not like to say
that she did not quite understand, so she turned to me, as had
been previously arranged,--a sign for me to interpret. I did not,
however, do so immediately, so Mrs. Conger told her missionary
friend to repeat the request in case Her Majesty had not quite
understood it. Her Majesty then said to me: "I cannot quite
understand what this lady says. I think perhaps you can tell me
better." So I explained everything, but I knew that Her Majesty
did not know what a portrait was like, as, up to that time she had
never even had a photograph taken of herself.

I must here explain that in China a portrait is only painted after
death, in memorium of the deceased, in order that the following
generations may worship the deceased. I noticed that Her Majesty
was somewhat shocked when the request was made known to her. I did
not want Her Majesty to appear ignorant before these foreign
ladies, so I pulled her sleeve and told her that I would explain
everything to her later. She replied: "Explain a little to me
now." This was spoken in the Court language, which the visitors
were unable to understand, it being somewhat different from the
ordinary Chinese language. This enabled Her Majesty to form some
idea of the conversation, so she thanked Mrs. Conger for her kind
thought, and promised to give her answer later. She said to me:
"Tell Mrs. Conger that I cannot decide anything alone, as she is
probably aware that I have to consult with my Ministers before
deciding anything of an important character. Tell her that I have
to be very careful not to do anything which would give my people
an opportunity to criticize my actions. I have to adhere to the
rules and customs of my ancestors." I noticed that Her Majesty did
not seem inclined to discuss the subject further at the moment.

Just then the head eunuch came in and, kneeling down, informed Her
Majesty that the boats for the ladies were ready to take them
across the lake, to see the temple. This action on the part of the
eunuch was owing to his having received a signal from one of the
Court ladies, which implied that Her Majesty was getting tired of
the conversation, and wished to change the subject. I must explain
that on every occasion when a foreign audience was taking place,
one of the Court ladies was always told off to watch Her Majesty,
and whenever she appeared to be displeased or tired of any
particular subject under discussion, she, the Court lady, would
give the signal to the head eunuch, who would break in upon the
conversation in the above manner, and thus save the situation from
becoming embarrassing. So Her Majesty said good-bye to the ladies,
as she thought it would be too late for them to have to return to
say good-bye, besides which it would give them more time to see
the various sights.

The ladies then proceeded to the island in the Empress Dowager's
pleasure boat known as the Imperial barge, previously described,
and visited the temple. This temple is built on top of a small
rock, in the center of which is a natural cave, and it was
generally supposed that no human being had ever been inside of
this cave. The Empress Dowager believed the popular superstition
that this hole was the home of the King of Dragons--from which the
temple derives its name.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN

THE EMPRESS'S PORTRAIT

 AFTER staying a little while at the temple, we returned to the
Palace, and the ladies said goodbye and took chairs to the Palace
gate, where their own chairs were waiting for them. I then went to
report to Her Majesty in the usual way what had been said by the
visitors; whether they had expressed themselves as being pleased
with the reception they had received. Her Majesty said: "I like
Mrs. Evans. I think she is a very good woman. It seems to me that
her manners are quite different from those of the other American
ladies whom I have met. I like to meet people who are polite."
Then, referring to the subject of the portrait Her Majesty said:
"I wonder why Mrs. Conger has this idea. Now please explain to me
what painting a portrait really is." When I explained that it
would be necessary for her to sit for several hours each day she
was excited, and afraid she would never have the patience to see
it through. She asked me what she must do during the sitting, so I
explained that she would simply have to pose for the portrait,
sitting in one position all the time She said: "I shall be an old
woman by the time the portrait is finished." I told her that I had
had my own portrait painted during my stay in Paris, by the same
artist Mrs. Conger had proposed should paint her own portrait
(Miss Carl). She immediately told me to fetch the portrait of
myself so that she could examine it and see what it was like, so I
gave the order right away to a eunuch who was standing by to go to
my house and bring it. Her Majesty said: "I do not understand why
I must sit for the portrait Couldn't someone else do it for me." I
explained to her that as it was her own portrait, and not that of
somebody else, they wished to paint, it would be necessary for her
to sit herself. She then enquired whether it would be necessary
for her to wear the same dress at each sitting, also the same
jewels and ornaments. I replied that it would be necessary to do
so on each occasion. Her Majesty then explained that in China it
was only necessary for an artist to see his subject once, after
which he could start right away and finish the portrait in a very
short time, and thought that a really first-class foreign artist
should be able to do the same. Of course I explained the
difference between foreign portrait painting and Chinese, and told
her that when she had seen it she would see the difference and
understand the reason for so many sittings. She said: "I wonder
what kind of a person this lady artist is. Does she speak
Chinese?" I said that I knew Miss Carl very well, and that she was
a very nice lady, but that she didn't speak Chinese. She said: "If
her brother has been in the Customs service for so long, how is it
that she doesn't speak Chinese also?" I told her that Miss Carl
had been away from China for a long time; that in fact she had
only been in China for a very short time altogether, most of her
work being in Europe and America. Her Majesty said: "I am glad she
doesn't understand Chinese. The only objection about this portrait
painting is that I have to have a foreigner at the Palace all the
time. With my own people gossiping they might tell her things
which I don't want anyone to know." I told her that would be
impossible as Miss Carl did not understand Chinese at all, neither
did any of the people at Court understand English, with the
exception of ourselves (my mother, sister and myself). Her Majesty
answered: "You must not rely too much on that, as after spending a
short time at the Court they will soon learn to understand each
other." Continuing, she said: "By the way, how long will it take
before this portrait is finished?" I told her that it depended
entirely upon how often she sat, and how long each time. I didn't
like to tell her exactly how long it would take, as I was afraid
she might consider it too much bother, so I said that when the
artist arrived I would tell her to get along and finish the
portrait as quickly as possible.

Her Majesty said: "I don't see how I can very well refuse Mrs.
Conger's request. Of course I told her, as you know, that I would
have to consult with my Ministers, just to give me time to think
the matter over. If you know all about this artist lady, and think
she is quite all right to come here to the Palace, of course she
may come, and I will tell Prince Ching to reply to Mrs. Conger to
that effect. First of all we must talk over what we are going to
do, for to have a foreign lady staying in the Palace is out of the
question altogether. As a rule I always spend the summer at my
Summer Palace, and it is so far from the city that I don't think
she will be able to go to and from the Palace every day, on
account of the distance. Now, where can we put her? Someone will
have to watch her all the time. This is such a difficult matter
that I hardly know what to decide upon. How would you like to look
after her? Do you think you could manage it in such a way that no
one at the Palace will have a chance to talk with her during the
daytime, but who is going to stay and watch her during the night?"
Her Majesty walked up and down the room thinking it over for quite
a while. Finally she smiled and said: "I have it. We can treat her
as a prisoner without her knowing it, but it will all depend on
your mother, your sister and yourself to act for me in this
matter. Each of you will have to play your part very carefully,
and I mine also. I will give orders to have the Palace Garden of
Prince Chung (the Emperor Kwang Hsu's father) fixed up for Miss
Carl during her stay here."

This Palace garden is quite close to Her Majesty's own Palace,
about ten minutes' drive. It is not in the Palace ground, but is
quite a separate Palace outside the Summer Palace.

Continuing, Her Majesty said: "Now, you will have to come with her
every morning and return to stay with her every night. I think
this is the safest way out of the difficulty, but be careful with
regard to all correspondence which she may either receive or send
away. The only thing about it is that it will give you a lot of
extra work, but you know how particular I am over things of this
kind, and it will save a lot of trouble in the end. There is
another thing you will have to be very careful about, and that is
to watch that Miss Carl has no chance to talk with the Emperor.
The reason why I say this is because, as you know, the Emperor is
of a shy disposition, and might say something which would offend
her. I will appoint four extra eunuchs to be in attendance during
the sittings for the portrait, so that they will be on hand in
case anything is wanted." Her Majesty then said: "I noticed that
Mrs. Conger was watching you when you pulled my sleeve. I wonder
what she thought of it. You needn't care, anyway. Let her think
anything she likes. I understood what you meant if Mrs. Conger
didn't, and that is all that is necessary." I told her that
perhaps Mrs. Conger thought I wanted to advise her to refuse this
request, but Her Majesty said: "What does that matter? If it
hadn't been that you know the artist yourself I would not have
consented in any case. It is not the painting of the portrait that
I mind, but it might give rise to serious results."

The next morning I received a letter from Mrs. Conger begging me
not to prejudice Her Majesty against Miss Carl in any way. I
translated this to Her Majesty, and it made her furious. She said:
"No one has any right to write to you in such a way. How dare she
suggest that you would say anything against Miss Carl? Didn't I
tell you she was watching you when you pulled my sleeve? When you
reply to that letter tell her whatever you like, but answer in the
same way she writes herself, or, better still, you write and
inform her that it is not customary for any Court lady to try and
influence Her Majesty in this country, and that in addition, you
are not so mean as to say anything against anybody. If you don't
like to say that, just say that as Miss Carl is a personal friend
of yours you certainly would never think of saying anything
against her."

I therefore replied to Mrs. Conger's letter in the ordinary way,
making it as formal as possible.

Her Majesty then talked of nothing but the portrait during the
whole of that afternoon. By and bye she said: "I hope that Mrs.
Conger will not send a missionary lady with Miss Carl to keep her
company during her stay at the Palace. If she does I will
certainly refuse to sit. The next morning the eunuch arrived with
my portrait, and everyone at the Court had a good look at it
before I took it to show to Her Majesty. Some of them were of the
opinion that it was very much like me, while the others thought
the painting a very poor one. When I informed Her Majesty of the
arrival of the portrait she ordered that it should be brought into
her bedroom immediately. She scrutinized it very carefully for a
while, even touching the painting in her curiosity. Finally she
burst out laughing and said: "What a funny painting this is, it
looks as though it had been painted with oil." (Of course it was
an oil painting.) "Such rough work I never saw in all my life. The
picture itself is marvellously like you, and I do not hesitate to
say that none of our Chinese painters could get the expression
which appears on this picture. What a funny dress you are wearing
in this picture. Why are your arms and neck all bare? I have heard
that foreign ladies wear their dresses without sleeves and without
collars, but I had no idea that it was so bad and ugly as the
dress you are wearing here. I cannot imagine how you could do it.
I should have thought you would have been ashamed to expose
yourself in that manner. Don't wear any more such dresses, please.
It has quite shocked me. What a funny kind of civilization this is
to be sure. Is this dress only worn on certain occasions, or is it
worn any time, even when gentlemen are present?" I explained to
her that it was the usual evening dress for ladies and was worn at
dinners, balls, receptions, etc. Her Majesty laughed and
exclaimed: "This is getting worse and worse. Everything seems to
go backwards in foreign countries. Here we don't even expose our
wrists when in the company of gentlemen, but foreigners seem to
have quite different ideas on the subject. The Emperor is always
talking about reform, but if this is a sample we had much better
remain as we are. Tell me, have you yet changed your opinion with
regard to foreign customs? Don't you think that our own customs
are much nicer?" Of course I was obliged to say "yes" seeing that
she herself was so prejudiced. She again examined the portrait and
said: "Why is it that one side of your face is painted white and
the other black? This is not natural--your face is not black. Half
of your neck is painted black, too. How is it?" I explained that
it was simply the shading and was painted exactly as the artist
saw me from the position in which she was sitting. Her Majesty
then enquired: "Do you think that this Artist lady will paint my
picture to look black also? It is going to America, and I don't
want the people over there to imagine that half of my face is
white and half black." I didn't like to tell her the truth, that
her portrait would in all probability be painted the same as mine,
so I promised Her Majesty that I would tell the artist exactly how
she wished to be painted. She then asked me if I knew when the
artist proposed commencing the portrait. I told her that the
artist was still in Shanghai, but that Mrs. Conger had already
written to her to come up to Peking, to make the necessary
preparations. One week later I received a letter from Miss Carl
informing me that she proposed coming up to Peking at once, and
that she would be delighted if Her Majesty would allow her to
paint this portrait. I translated the letter to Her Majesty, who
said: "I am very glad that you know this lady personally. It will
make it much easier for me. You know there may be some things
which I may want to tell Miss Carl, but which I don't want Mrs.
Conger to know. I mean that there might be certain things which I
shall have to say to Miss Carl, which, if Mrs. Conger heard of
them, would give her the impression that I was very difficult to
please. You understand what I mean. As this lady is a friend of
yours, you will of course be able to tell her things in such a
manner as not to offend her, and I may tell you again that if it
were not that she is a personal friend of your own I would not
have her here at all, as it is quite contrary to our custom."

On the third day of the second-fifth moon Prince Ching informed
Her Majesty that the artist had arrived at Peking and was staying
with Mrs. Conger and wished to know Her Majesty's pleasure in
regard to commencing the portrait. Now I must explain that the
Chinese year varies as to the number of moons it contains. For
example, one year contains the ordinary twelve months or moons.
The following year may contain thirteen moons. Then the two years
following that may contain twelve moons only, and thirteen moons
the next year, and so on. At the time of the proposed visit of the
artist the Chinese year contained thirteen moons, there being two
fifth moons in that year. When Prince Ching asked Her Majesty to
name the day on which Miss Carl should commence her work, she
replied: "I will give her my answer to-morrow. I must first
consult my book, as I don't want to start this portrait on an
unlucky day." So the next day, after her usual morning audience
Her Majesty consulted this book for quite a time. Finally she said
to me: "According to my book the next lucky day will not occur for
another ten days or so," and handed me the book to look myself.
Eventually she picked out the twentieth day of the second-fifth
moon as the most lucky day for beginning the work. Next she had to
consult the book again in order to fix on the exact hour, finally
fixing on 7 o'clock in the evening. I was very much worried when
she told me that, as by that time it would be quite dark, so I
explained to Her Majesty as nicely as I could that it would be
impossible for Miss Carl to work at that hour of the day. Her
Majesty replied: "Well, we have electric lights here. Surely that
would be sufficient light for her." Then I had to explain that it
would not be possible to get such good results by means of
artificial light as if it were painted during the daytime. You see
I was anxious to get her to change the hour, as I was sure that
Miss Carl would refuse to paint by means of electric light. Her
Majesty replied: "What a bother. I can paint pictures myself in
any kind of light, and she ought to be able to do the same." After
much discussion it was finally settled that 10 o'clock on the
morning of the twentieth day of the second-fifth moon should be
the time for Miss Carl to commence to paint this portrait, and I
can assure you that I felt very much relieved when it was all
settled. When the eunuch brought in my portrait, he also brought
in several photographs which I had had taken during my stay in
Paris, but I decided not to show them to Her Majesty in case she
should decide to have a photograph taken instead of having this
portrait painted, as it would be much quicker and save her the
trouble of sitting each day. However, as Her Majesty was passing
on the veranda in front of my bedroom the next morning she stepped
into the room just to have a look around and, as she put it, to
see whether I kept everything clean, and in good order. This was
the first time she had visited me in my own room, and I was
naturally very much embarrassed, as she very rarely visited the
rooms of her Court ladies. I could not keep her standing, and I
could not ask her to sit down in any of my own chairs, as it is
the Chinese custom that the Emperor and Empress should only sit
down in their own special chairs, which are usually carried by an
attendant wherever they go. I therefore was on the point of giving
an order for her own stool to be brought in, when Her Majesty
stopped me and said that she would sit on one of the chairs in the
room, and so bring me good luck. So she sat down in an easy chair.
A eunuch brought in her tea, which I handed to her myself instead
of letting the eunuch wait upon her. This of course was Court
etiquette, and was also a sign of respect

After she had finished her tea, she got up and went around the
room, examining everything, opening up all my bureau drawers and
boxes in order to see whether I kept my things in proper order.
Happening to glance into one corner of the room she exclaimed:
"What are those pictures on the table over there," and walked
across to examine them. As soon as she picked them up, she
exclaimed in much surprise: "Why, they are all photographs of
yourself, and are very much better than the picture you had
painted. They are more like you. Why didn't you show them to me
before?" I hardly knew what to answer, and when she saw that I was
very much embarrassed by her question, she immediately started
talking about something else. She often acted in this manner when
she saw that any of us were not quite prepared for any of her
questions, but she would be sure to reopen the subject at some
future time, when we were expected to give a direct answer.

After examining the photographs for sometime, which by the way,
were all taken in European dress, Her Majesty said: "Now these are
good photographs; much better than the portrait you had painted.
Still I have given my promise, and I suppose I shall have to keep
it. However, if I do have my photograph taken, it will not
interfere at all with the painting of the portrait. The only
trouble is I cannot ask an ordinary professional photographer to
the Palace. It would hardly be the thing."

My mother thereupon explained to Her Majesty that if she desired
to have her photograph taken, one of my brothers, who had studied
photography for some considerable time, would be able to do all
that was necessary.

I would like to explain that I had two brothers at Court at that
time, who held appointments under the Empress Dowager. One was in
charge of all the electrical installation at the Summer Palace,
and the other, her private steam launch. It was the custom for all
the sons of the Manchu officials to hold certain positions at the
Court for two or three years. They were perfectly free to walk
about the grounds of the Palace, and saw Her Majesty daily. Her
Majesty was always very kind to these young men, and chatted with
them in quite a motherly way. These young fellows had to come to
the Palace each morning very early, but as no man was allowed to
stay all night in the Palace they of course had to leave when they
had finished their duties for the day.

When Her Majesty heard what my mother said, she was very much
surprised, and asked why she had never been told that my brother
was learned in photography. My mother replied that she had no idea
that Her Majesty wished to have a photograph taken, and had not
dared to suggest such a thing herself. Her Majesty laughed, and
said: "You may suggest anything you like, as I want to try
anything that is new to me, especially as outsiders can know
nothing about it." She gave orders to send for my brother at once.
On his arrival Her Majesty said to him: "I hear that you are a
photographer. I am going to give you something to do." My brother
was kneeling, as was the custom of the Court, whilst Her Majesty
was addressing him. Everybody, with the exception of the Court
ladies, had to kneel when she was speaking to them. Even the
Emperor himself was no exception to this rule. Of course the Court
ladies, being constantly in attendance, were allowed not to kneel,
as Her Majesty was talking to us all the time, and it was her
orders that we should not do so, as it would be wasting a lot of
time.

Her Majesty asked my brother when he would be able to come and
take her photograph, and what kind of weather was necessary. My
brother said that he would go back to Peking that night, to fetch
his camera, and that he could take the photograph at any time she
desired, as the weather would not affect the work. So Her Majesty
decided to have her photograph taken the next morning. She said:
"I want to have one taken first of all in my chair, when going to
the audience, and you can take some others afterwards." She also
asked my brother how long she would have to sit, and was surprised
to learn that only a few seconds would suffice. Next she enquired
how long it would be before it was finished, so that she could see
it. My brother answered that if it were taken in the morning it
could be finished late the same afternoon. Her Majesty said that
was delightful, and expressed a wish to watch him do the work. She
told my brother that he might select any room in the Palace to
work in, and ordered a eunuch to make the necessary preparations.

The next day was a beautiful day, and at eight o'clock my brother
was waiting in the courtyard with several cameras. Her Majesty
went to the courtyard and examined each of them. She said: "How
funny it is that you can take a person's picture with a thing like
that." After the method of taking the photograph had been fully
explained to her, she commanded one of the eunuchs to stand in
front of the camera so that she might look through the focusing
glass, to see what it was like. Her Majesty exclaimed: "Why is it
your head is upside down? Are you standing on your head or feet?"
So we explained when the photo was taken it would not look that
way. She was delighted with the result of her observations, and
said that it was marvellous. Finally she told me to go and stand
there, as she wanted to have a look at me through this glass also.
She then exchanged places with me, and desired that I should look
through the glass and see if I could make out what she was doing.
She waved her hand in front of the camera, and on my telling her
of it, she was pleased.

She then entered her chair, and ordered the bearers to proceed. My
brother took another photograph of Her Majesty in the procession
as she passed the camera. After she had passed the camera she
turned and asked my brother: "Did you take a picture?" and on my
brother answering that he had, Her Majesty said: "Why didn't you
tell me? I was looking too serious. Next time when you are going
to take one, let me know so that I may try and look pleasant."

I knew that Her Majesty was very much pleased. While we were at
the back of the screen during the audience, I noticed that she
seemed anxious to get it over, in order to have some more
photographs taken. It only took about twenty minutes to get that
particular audience over, which was very rare.

After the people had gone, we came from behind the screen and Her
Majesty said: "Let us go and have some more pictures taken while
the weather is fine." So she walked the courtyard of the Audience
Hall, where my brother had a camera ready, and had another
photograph taken. She said that she would like to have some taken
sitting on her throne, exactly as though she were holding an
audience. It took us only a few minutes to have everything
prepared in the courtyard. The screen was placed behind the
throne, and her footstool was also placed ready for her, and she
ordered one of the Court ladies to go and bring several gowns for
her to select from. At the same time I went and brought some of
her favorite jewelry. She ordered the two gowns which she had worn
at the audiences when she received Admiral Evans and Mrs. Evans,
to be brought in, and also the same jewels as she had worn on
those respective occasions. She had two photographs taken in these
costumes, one in each dress. Next she wanted one taken in a plain
gown, without any embroidery. She then ordered my brother to go
and finish the pictures which had already been taken, as she was
anxious to see what they were like. She said to my brother: "You
wait a minute, I want to go with you and see how you work on
them." Of course, I had not considered it necessary to explain to
Her Majesty the process of developing the pictures, the dark room,
etc., so I explained to her as well as I could the whole thing.
Her Majesty replied: "It doesn't matter. I want to go and see the
room, no matter what kind of a room it is." So we all adjourned to
the dark room in order to see my brother work on the photographs.
We placed a chair so that Her Majesty could sit down. She said to
my brother: "You must forget that I am here, and go along with
your work just as usual." She watched for a while, and was very
pleased when she saw that the plates were developing so quickly.
My brother held up the plate to the red light, to enable her to
see more distinctly. Her Majesty said: "It is not very clear. I
can see that it is myself all right, but why is it that my face
and hands are dark?" We explained to her that when the picture was
printed on paper, these dark spots would show white, and the white
parts would be dark. She said: "Well, one is never too old to
learn. This is something really new to me. I am not sorry that I
suggested having my photograph taken, and only hope that I shall
like the portrait painting as well." She said to my brother:
"Don't finish these photographs until after I have had my
afternoon rest. I want to see you do it." When she got up at about
half-past three, it did not take her long to dress herself, as was
her usual custom, and she went immediately to where my brother had
the papers and everything prepared. He then showed Her Majesty how
the printing was done. There was plenty of light, as it was summer
time, and as it was only four o'clock in the afternoon, the sun
was still high. Her Majesty watched for two hours while my brother
was printing, and was delighted to see each picture come out quite
plainly. She held the first one in her hands so long while
examining the others, that when she came to look at it again, she
found that it had turned quite black. She could not understand
this at all, and exclaimed: "Why has this gone black? Is it bad
luck?" We explained to her that it must be washed after printing,
otherwise a strong light would cause the picture to fade, as this
one had done. She said: "How very interesting, and what a lot of
work there is."

After the printing process had been finished, my brother placed
the pictures in a chemical bath, as usual, finally washing them in
clean water. This caused Her Majesty even more surprise when she
saw how clear the pictures came out, and caused her to exclaim:
"How extraordinary. Everything is quite true to life." When they
were finally completed, she took the whole of them to her own room
and sat down on her little throne, and gazed at them for a long
time. She even took her mirror in order to compare her reflection
with the photographs just taken.

All this time my brother was standing in the courtyard awaiting
Her Majesty's further commands. Suddenly she recollected this
fact, and said: "Why, I had forgotten all about your brother. The
poor fellow must be still standing waiting to know what I want
next. You go and tell him--no, I had better go and speak to him
myself. He has worked so hard all the day, that I want to say
something to make him feel happy." She ordered my brother to print
ten copies of each of the photographs, and to leave all his
cameras at the Palace, in order that he could proceed with the
work the next day.

The following ten days it rained continually, which made Her
Majesty very impatient, as it was impossible to take any more
photographs until the weather improved. Her Majesty wanted to have
some taken in the Throne Room, but this room was too dark, the
upper windows being pasted over with thick paper, only the lower
windows allowing the light to enter. My brother tried several
times, but failed to get a good picture.

During this rainy period the Court was moved to the Sea Palace, as
the Emperor was to sacrifice at the Temple of Earth. This was a
yearly ceremony and was carried out on similar lines to all other
annual ceremonies. On account of the rain Her Majesty ordered that
boats should be brought alongside the west shore of the Summer
Palace. On entering the boats, Her Majesty, accompanied by the
Court, proceeded to the Western Gate of the city, and on arrival
at the last bridge, disembarked. Chairs were awaiting us and we
rode to the gate of the Sea Palace. There we again entered the
boats and proceeded across the lake, a distance of about a mile.
While crossing the lake Her Majesty noticed a lot of lotus plants
which were in full bloom. She said: "We are going to stay at least
three days here. I hope the weather will be fine, as I should like
to have some photographs taken in the open boats on the lake. I
have also another; good idea, and that is, I want to have one
taken as `Kuan Yin' (Goddess of Mersy). The two chief eunuchs will
be dressed as attendants. The necessary gowns were made some time
ago, and I occasionally put them on. Whenever I have been angry,
or worried over anything, by dressing up as the Goddess of Mercy
it helps me to calm myself, and so play the part I represent. I
can assure you that it does help me a great deal, as it makes me
remember that I am looked upon as being all-merciful. By having a
photograph taken of myself dressed in this costume, I shall be
able to see myself as I ought to be at all times."

When we arrived at the private Palace the rain ceased. We walked
to her bedroom, although the ground was still in bad condition.
One of Her Majesty's peculiarities was a desire to go out in the
rain and walk about. She would not even use an umbrella unless it
was raining very heavily. The eunuchs always carried our
umbrellas, but if Her Majesty did not use her umbrella, of course
we could not very well use ours. The same thing applied in
everything. If Her Majesty wanted to walk, we had to walk also,
and if she decided to ride in her chair, we had to get into our
chairs and ride as well. The only exception to this rule was when
Her Majesty, being tired walking, ordered her stool to rest on. We
were not allowed to sit in her presence, but had to stand all the
time. Her Majesty liked her Sea Palace better than her Palace in
the Forbidden City. It was far prettier, and had the effect of
making her good tempered.

Her Majesty ordered us to retire early that day, as we were all
very tired after the trip, and said that in the event of it being
fine the next day, she would have the proposed photographs taken.
However, much to Her Majesty's disappointment, it rained
incessantly for the next three days, so it was decided to stay a
few days longer. On the last day of our stay it cleared up
sufficiently to enable the photographs to be taken, after which we
all returned to the Summer Palace.

The day after our arrival at the Summer Palace Her Majesty said
that we had better prepare everything for the audience to receive
the lady artist (Miss Carl). She told the chief eunuch to issue
orders to all the other eunuchs not to speak to Miss Carl, but
simply be polite as occasion required. We Court ladies received
similar orders. Also, that we were not to address Her Majesty
while Miss Carl was present. The Emperor received similar
instructions. Her Majesty gave orders to have the Gardens of
Prince Chung's Palace ready. She then said to us: "I trust you
three to look after this lady artist. I have already given orders
for food to be supplied by the Wai Wu Pu. The only thing that I
have been worried about is that I have no foreign food here for
Miss Carl." She ordered us to have our stove taken over to Prince
Chung's Palace in case Miss Carl desired something cooked. She
said: "I know it will be very hard for you to take her to the
Palace each morning and return with her at night, besides having
to watch her all day long, but I know you do not mind. You are
doing all this for me." After a while she smiled, and said: "How
selfish of me. I order you to bring all your things to this place,
but what is your father going to do? The best thing will be to ask
your father to come and live in the same place. The country air
might benefit him." We kowtowed and thanked Her Majesty, as this
was a special favor, no official nor anyone else having been
allowed to live in Prince Chung's Palace previously. We all were
very pleased--I could now see my father every day. Hitherto we had
only been able to see him about once a month, and then only by
asking special leave.

The next day Her Majesty sent us to Prince Chung's Palace to make
all necessary arrangements for Miss Carl's stay.

This Palace of Prince Chung's was a magnificent place. All the
smaller dwellings were quite separate from each other, not in one
large building, as was the custom. There was a small lake in the
grounds, and lovely little paths to walk along, exactly like the
Empress Dowager's Summer Palace, but, of course, on a much smaller
scale. We selected one of these small dwellings, or summer houses,
for the use of Miss Carl during her stay, and had it fitted up
nicely, to make her as comfortable as possible. We ourselves were
to occupy the next house to Miss Carl, in order that we might
always be on hand, and at the same time keep a good eye on her. We
returned to the Summer Palace the same evening, and told Her
Majesty just how everything had been arranged. She said: "I want
you all to be very careful not to let this lady know that you are
watching her." She seemed very anxious about this, repeating these
instructions for several days prior to Miss Carl's arrival.

I felt very much relieved when the day before the audience
arrived, and everything was finally fixed to Her Majesty's
satisfaction. She ordered us to retire early that evening, as she
wanted to rest and look well the next morning. When morning came
we hurried over everything, even the usual morning audience, so
that we could be ready when Miss Carl arrived.

While I was standing behind the screen, as usual, a eunuch came
and told me that Mrs. Conger, the artist, and another lady had
arrived, and that they were now in the waiting room. By that time
the audience was about finished. The chief eunuch came in and told
Her Majesty that the foreign ladies had arrived and were waiting
in another room. Her Majesty said to us: "I think I will go to the
courtyard and meet them there." Of course, at all private
audiences Her Majesty received the people in the Throne Room, but
as Miss Carl was more of a guest, she did not think it necessary
to go through the usual formal reception.

While we were descending the steps we saw the ladies entering the
gate of the courtyard. I pointed out Miss Carl to Her Majesty, and
noticed that she eyed Miss Carl very keenly. When we arrived in
the courtyard, Mrs. Conger came forward and greeted Her Majesty
and then presented Miss Carl. Her Majesty's first impression of
Miss Carl was a good one, as Miss Carl was smiling very
pleasantly, and Her Majesty, who always liked to see a pleasant
smile, exclaimed to me in an undertone: "She seems to be a very
pleasant person," to which I replied that I was very glad she
thought so, as I was very anxious about the impression Miss Carl
would make on Her Majesty. Her Majesty watched Miss Carl and
myself as we greeted each other, and I could see that she was
satisfied. She told me afterwards that she had noticed Miss Carl
appeared very glad to see me again, and said: "We will handle her
pretty easily, I think." Her Majesty then went to her own private
Palace, and we all followed. On our arrival, Miss Carl told me
that she had brought her own canvas. This was a piece about six
feet by four feet. I had told Miss Carl a little previously that
Her Majesty refused to sit for a very small portrait and that she
would like a life-size one. When Her Majesty saw the canvas she
appeared to be very much disappointed, as in her opinion even that
was not large enough. We placed the tables ready for Miss Carl,
and Her Majesty asked her to choose the position in which she
wished to paint. I knew that Miss Carl would have great difficulty
in choosing a good position on account of the windows being built
so low, there being very little light except low down near the
ground. However, Miss Carl finally placed the canvas near the door
of the room. Her Majesty told Mrs. Conger and the rest to sit down
for a while as she wanted to change into another gown. I followed
her into her bedroom. The first question Her Majesty asked was how
old I thought Miss Carl was, as she herself could not guess her
age, her hair being extremely light, in fact almost white. I could
hardly refrain from laughing outright on hearing this, and told
Her Majesty that Miss Carl's hair was naturally of a light color.
Her Majesty said that she had often seen ladies with golden hair,
but never one with white hair, excepting old ladies. She said: "I
think that she is very nice, however, and hope she will paint a
good portrait."

Turning to one of the Court ladies, she ordered her to fetch a
yellow gown as although, as she put it, she did not like yellow,
she thought it would be the best color for a portrait. She
selected one from a number which the Court lady brought,
embroidered all over with purple wisteria. Her shoes and
handkerchiefs matched. She also wore a blue silk scarf,
embroidered with the character "Shou" (long life). Each character
had a pearl in the center. She wore a pair of jade bracelets and
also jade nail protectors. In addition she wore jade butterflies
and a tassel on one side of her headdress, and, as usual, fresh
flowers on the other side. Her Majesty certainly did look
beautiful on that occasion.

By the time she came out from her room Miss Carl had everything
prepared. When she saw how Her Majesty was dressed, she exclaimed:
"How beautiful Her Majesty looks in this dress," which remark I
interpreted to Her Majesty, and it pleased her very much.

She seated herself on her throne, ready to pose for the picture.
She just sat down in an ordinary easy position, placing one hand
on a cushion. Miss Carl explained: "That is an excellent position,
as it is so natural. Please do not move." I told Her Majesty what
Miss Carl said, and she asked me whether she looked all right, or
not. If not, she would change her position. I assured her that she
looked very grand in that position. However, she asked the opinion
of the Young Empress and some of the Court ladies, who all agreed
that she could not look better. I could see that they never looked
at Her Majesty at all, they were too much interested in what Miss
Carl was doing.

When Miss Carl commenced to make the rough sketch of Her Majesty
everyone watched with open mouth, as they had never seen anything
done so easily and so naturally. The Young Empress whispered to
me: "Although I don't know anything about portrait painting, still
I can see that she is a good artist. She has never seen any of our
clothes and headdresses, and she has copied them exactly. Just
imagine one of our Chinese artists trying to paint a foreign lady,
what a mess he would make of it."

After the sketch was finished Her Majesty was delighted and
thought it was wonderful for Miss Carl to have made it so quickly
and so accurately. I explained that this was a rough sketch and
that when Miss Carl commenced painting, she would soon see the
difference. Her Majesty told me to ask Miss Carl whether she was
tired and would like to rest; also to tell her that she was very
busy all the day, and would only be able to give her a few
minutes' sitting each day. We then took Miss Carl to luncheon,
together with Mrs. Conger, and after luncheon we accompanied Her
Majesty to the theatre.

After Mrs. Conger had departed I took Miss Carl to my room to
rest. As soon as we arrived there, Her Majesty sent a eunuch to
call me to her bedroom. Her Majesty said: "I don't want this lady
to paint during my afternoon rest. She can rest at the same time.
As soon as I am up you can bring her here to paint. I am glad that
it looks like turning out better than I had anticipated." I
therefore told Miss Carl Her Majesty's wishes in this respect and
that she could paint for a little while, if she chose to, after
Her Majesty had had her rest. Miss Carl was so interested in Her
Majesty, she told me she didn't want to rest at all, but that she
would like to go on with the painting right away. Of course, I did
not like to tell her anything the first day, as it might upset
her, and did not say that this was a command from Her Majesty.
After a lot of maneuvering I got her to give up the idea of
continuing straight off, without offending her. I took her out on
the veranda as the eunuch was preparing the table for Her
Majesty's dinner in the room we were then occupying. The Young
Empress kept Miss Carl busy talking, I acting as interpreter. Soon
one of the eunuchs came and informed us that Her Majesty had
finished dinner, and would we please come and take ours. On
entering the room I was very much surprised to see that chairs had
been placed there, as this had never been done previously,
everybody, with the exception of Her Majesty, taking their meals
standing. The Young Empress was also very much surprised and asked
me whether I knew anything about it. I said that perhaps it was on
account of Miss Carl being there. The Young Empress told me to go
over and ask Her Majesty, as she was afraid to sit down without
receiving orders to do so. Her Majesty whispered to me: "I don't
want Miss Carl to think we are barbarians, and treat the Young
Empress and the Court ladies in that manner. Of course, she does
not understand our Court etiquette and might form a wrong
impression, so you can all sit down without coming over to thank
me, but be natural, as though you were accustomed to sitting down
to dinner every day."

After Her Majesty had washed her hands she came over to our table.
Of course we all stood up. Her Majesty told me to ask Miss Carl
whether she liked the food, and was pleased when Miss Carl
answered that she liked the food better than her own kind. That
relieved Her Majesty.

After dinner was over I told Miss Carl to say good-bye to Her
Majesty. We courtesied to her, also to the Young Empress, and said
good night to the Court ladies. We then took Miss Carl to the
Palace of Prince Chung. It took us about ten minutes' ride in the
carts. We showed Miss Carl her bedroom, and were pleased to leave
her and get to our own rooms, for a good night's rest.

The next morning we took Miss Carl to the Palace, and arrived
there during the morning audience. Of course Miss Carl, being a
foreigner, could not enter the Throne Room, so we sat down on the
back veranda of the Audience Hall and waited until it was over.
This, of course, prevented my being in attendance each morning, as
usual, and was a great disappointment to me, as I was unable to
keep in touch with what was taking place. Moreover, during the
time I had been at Court, my one object had been to endeavor to
interest Her Majesty in Western customs and civilization. I
believed that to a great extent Her Majesty was becoming
interested in these things, and would refer the subjects of our
conversations to her Ministers, for their opinions. For instance,
I had shown her photographs taken of a Naval Review at which I was
present in France. Her Majesty seemed to be impressed, and said
that she would certainly like to be able to make a similar display
in China. This matter she consulted with her Ministers, but they
gave the usual evasive answer, viz.: "There is plenty of time for
that." From this you will see that Her Majesty was not able to
introduce reforms entirely alone, even though she might desire to
do so, but had to consult the Ministers, who would always agree
with Her Majesty, but would suggest that the matter be put off for
a time.

My experience while at the Palace was that everybody seemed to be
afraid to suggest anything new for fear they might get themselves
into trouble.

When Her Majesty came out from the Audience Hall, Miss Carl went
up to her and kissed Her Majesty's hand, which caused her great
surprise, although she did not show it at the time. Afterwards,
however, when we were alone, she asked me why Miss Carl had done
this, as it was not a Chinese custom. She naturally thought that
it must be a foreign custom, and therefore said nothing about it.

Her Majesty then proceeded on foot to her own Palace, to change
her dress for the portrait. It was a beautiful morning, and when
she had posed for about ten minutes, she told me that she felt too
tired to proceed, and asked if it would be all right to ask Miss
Carl to postpone it. I explained that as Miss Carl was going to be
at the Palace for some time, the postponement of one day's sitting
would not make much difference at that time, although I knew that
Miss Carl would naturally be disappointed. Still, I had to humor
Her Majesty as much as possible, otherwise she might have thrown
up the whole thing. Miss Carl said that if Her Majesty wished to
go to rest, she could be working painting the screen and the
throne, and Her Majesty could pose again later on if she felt like
it. This pleased Her Majesty, and she said that she would try to
sit again after taking her afternoon's rest. Her Majesty ordered
me to give Miss Carl her lunch in my own room at twelve o'clock
each day, my mother, my sister and myself keeping her company.
Dinner at the Palace was usually taken about six o'clock, and it
was arranged that Miss Carl should take dinner with the Young
Empress and the Court ladies at that hour, after Her Majesty had
finished dining. Her Majesty also ordered that champagne or any
other wine which Miss Carl preferred, should be served, as she
said she knew it was the custom for all foreign ladies to take
wine with their meals. Where she got hold of this idea, nobody
knew. I was sure that Her Majesty had been misinformed by
somebody, but it would have been bad policy to have tried to tell
her different at the moment. She disliked very much to be told
that she was wrong in any of these things, and it could only be
done by waiting and casually introducing the subject at some other
time.

After Miss Carl had gone to rest during the afternoon, Her Majesty
sent for me and asked the usual question, viz.: What had Miss Carl
been saying? etc., etc. She seemed particularly anxious to know
what Miss Carl thought of her, and when I told her that Miss Carl
had said that she was very beautiful and quite young looking, she
said: "Oh! well, of course Miss Carl would say that to you."
However, on my assuring her that Miss Carl had given this opinion
without being asked for it, she showed very plainly that she was
not at all displeased with the compliment.

Suddenly Her Majesty said: "I have been thinking that if Miss Carl
can paint the screen and the throne, surely she ought to be able
to paint my clothes and jewels, without it being necessary for me
to pose all the time." I told her that would be quite impossible,
as nobody could hold the things for Miss Carl to get the proper
effect. To my surprise she answered: "Well, that is easily gotten
over. You wear them in my place." I hardly knew what to say, but
thought I would get out of the difficulty by telling her that
perhaps Miss Carl would not like such an arrangement. Her Majesty,
however, could see no possible objection on Miss Carl's part, as
she herself could pose when the time came for painting her face.
So I put the matter as nicely as possible to Miss Carl, and it was
finally arranged that I should dress in Her Majesty's robes and
jewels whenever Her Majesty felt too tired to do the posing
herself. In this manner the portrait of the Empress Dowager was
painted, and with the exception of just a few hours to enable Miss
Carl to get Her Majesty's facial expression, I had to sit for two
hours each morning, and for another two hours each afternoon until
the portrait was finished.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN

THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY

 MY father's four months' leave having expired, he was received in
audience by their Majesties on the first day of the sixth moon. He
was much improved in health, but his rheumatism was still very
troublesome. This was particularly noticeable when climbing the
steps to the Audience Hall, and Her Majesty ordered two of the
eunuchs to assist him.

First he thanked Her Majesty for her kindness towards my sister
and myself, and, as was the custom, took off his hat and knelt
down, bowing his head until it struck the ground. This ceremony
was always gone through by any official who had received special
favors from Their Majesties.

He then replaced his hat on his head and remained kneeling before
the throne. Her Majesty then questioned him about his life in
Paris, from time to time complimenting him on his work. Seeing
that remaining in this kneeling position appeared to be making him
tired, Her Majesty ordered one of the eunuchs to bring a cushion
for him to use, which was another great honor, as this cushion was
only used by the President of the Grand Council.

Her Majesty told him that as he was now getting to be a very old
man, she did not intend sending him away from China again, as she
wanted to keep my sister and myself at the Court, which she could
not do if she sent him to some foreign country, as he would want
to take his daughters with him. She said she was pleased, that
although we had been away from China for such a long time, we were
well acquainted with the Manchu customs. My father replied that it
had been his care that we should be brought up according to the
customs of our own country.

Her Majesty when asked the Emperor if he had anything to say, and
he replied by asking my father if he spoke French, and thought it
very strange on learning that he did not. My father explained that
he had never had the time to study it, besides which he considered
himself too old to learn a foreign language.

The Emperor next asked what was the feeling in France towards
China. My father replied that they were very friendly at that
time, but that immediately after the Boxer trouble the post of
Minister had been a very embarrassing one. Her Majesty said that
it had been an unfortunate affair, but she was glad that
everything was now settled satisfactorily. She told my father that
he was to get well again as quickly as possible, and the audience
came to an end.

Afterwards Her Majesty said that my father was looking very old
since his return from France and that he would have to be careful
and take things easy until he got stronger again. She was pleased
that he had shown appreciation of her interest in my sister and
myself.

Preparations were now commenced for celebrating the birthday of
His Majesty, the Emperor Kwang Hsu, which was to take place on the
28th of that month. The actual date of the Emperor's birthday was
the 26th of the sixth moon, but this day, being the anniversary of
the death of a previous Emperor of China, we were unable to hold
any festivities, and so it was always celebrated on the 28th day
instead. The official celebration lasted for seven days, three
days before and four days after the actual date. During that time
the whole of the Court dressed in official robes, and no business
of any kind whatever was attended to. This being the Emperor's
32nd birthday, and as the full celebrations only took place every
tenth year, i. e. On his 20th birthday, his 30th birthday, and so
on, the festivities were not carried out on a very grand scale.
However, it was quite sufficient to interfere with all business,
and the usual morning audiences did not take place during these
seven days. The Empress Dowager herself was the only person who
did not dress especially during these celebrations, and who did
not take any active part in the festivities. Another reason why
the celebrations were not carried out on a very large scale was
the fact that the Empress Dowager, being alive, she took
precedence, according to the Manchu custom, over the Emperor
himself, in fact she was the actual ruler of the country, the
Emperor being second. The Emperor was quite aware of this fact,
and when the Empress commanded that preparations be commenced for
the celebrations, the Emperor would always suggest that it was not
at all necessary to celebrate the occasion unless it happened to
be a tenth year, and would very reluctantly agree to the
festivities taking place. Of course this was more out of
politeness on the part of the Emperor and to conform to the
recognized etiquette, but the nation recognized this birthday and
naturally celebrated according to the usual custom. During this
period, therefore, the painting of the portrait was postponed.

When the morning of the 25th arrived, the Emperor dressed himself
in his official robe-yellow gown, embroidered with gold dragons
and coat of a reddish black color. Of course, being the Emperor,
in place of the usual button on the hat he wore a large pearl. I
might mention that the Emperor was the only person who could wear
this particular pearl in place of a button. He came as usual to
wish Her Majesty Chi Hsiang and then proceeded to the temple to
worship before the ancestral tablets. After this ceremony was over
he returned to the Empress Dowager and kowtowed to her. All the
Chinese adopt this rule of kowtowing to their parents on their own
birthdays, as a sign of reverence and respect. The Emperor next
proceeded to the Audience Hall, where all the Ministers were
assembled, and received their salutations and congratulations.
This ceremony very often caused amusement, for to see several
hundred people all bobbing their heads up and down, especially
when they did not all manage to do it together, was a very funny
sight. Even the Emperor himself had to laugh, it was such an
extraordinary spectacle.

The musical instruments which were used during the ceremony
deserve a little description. The principal instrument is made of
hard wood, and has a flat bottom about three feet in diameter,
with a dome-shaped top raised about three feet from the ground.
The inside is quite hollow. A long pole made of the same material
is used as a drumstick, and an official, specially appointed,
beats with all his might on the drum. The noise can be better
imagined than described. This is used as a signal to announce when
the Emperor takes his seat upon the throne. In addition to the
above, a full sized model of a tiger, also made of similar hard
wood, and having twenty-four scales on its back, is brought into
the courtyard. In this case they did not beat the instrument, but
scraped along its back over the scales, which emitted a noise
similar to the letting off simultaneously of innumerable crackers.
This noise was kept up during the whole of the ceremony, and what
with the drum and this tiger instrument it was sufficient to
deafen one. During the ceremony, an official crier used to call
out the different orders, such as when to kneel, bow, stand up,
kowtow, etc., etc., but with the noise it was quite impossible to
hear a single word of what he uttered. Another instrument was
composed of a frame made of wood, about eight feet high by three
feet broad. Across this frame were three wooden bars, from which
was suspended twelve bells, made out of pure gold. When these were
struck with a wooden stick the sound was not at all unlike the
dulcimer, only, of course, very much louder. This was placed on
the right side of the Audience Hall. On the left side a similar
instrument was placed, with the exception that the bells were
carved out of white jade. The music which could be brought out of
the instrument was very sweet.

When this ceremony of receiving the Ministers was concluded, the
Emperor proceeded to his private Palace, where the Young Empress
(his wife), the Secondary wife and all the Court ladies were
gathered, and, after kowtowing, all of the Court ladies present,
led by the Young Empress, knelt before him and presented him with
a Ru Yee. This is a kind of sceptre. Some are made out of pure
jade, while others are made out of wood inlaid with jade. This Ru
Yee is a symbol of good luck and was supposed to bring happiness
and prosperity to the person to whom it was presented. The
ceremony was gone through to the accompaniment of music played on
string instruments, which was very sweet.

Next the eunuchs were received by the Emperor, and they similarly
congratulated him, but without the accompaniment of music. After
the eunuchs came the servant girls, and the whole of the ceremony
was over. The Emperor next proceeded to Her Majesty's Palace,
where he knelt before Her Majesty and thanked her for the
celebration which had been given in his honor, after which Her
Majesty, accompanied by the whole Court, went to the theatre to
see the play. On arrival at the theatre we were all presented by
Her Majesty with sweetmeats, this being the custom on these
occasions, and after a little while Her Majesty retired for her
afternoon rest. Thus the celebration ended.

Two days after the celebration the seventh moon commenced. The
seventh day of the seventh moon was the occasion of another
important anniversary.

The two stars, Niu Lang (Capricorn) and Chih Nu (Lyra) are
supposed to be the patrons of agriculture and weaving and,
according to tradition, were at one time man and wife. As the
result of a quarrel, however, they were doomed to live apart,
being separated from each other by the "Milky Way." But on the
seventh day of the seventh moon of each year they are allowed to
see each other and the magpies are supposed to build a bridge to
enable them to meet.

The ceremony is rather peculiar. Several basins full of water were
placed so that the sun's rays would fall upon them. Her Majesty
then took several tiny needles and dropped one into each basin.
These floated on the water, casting a shadow across the bottom of
the basins. These shadows took different forms, according to the
position of the needle, and if the shadow took certain prescribed
forms, the person throwing in the needle was supposed to be very
lucky and clever, while if they represented certain other forms,
they were despised by the gods as being ignorant. In addition, Her
Majesty burned incense and offered up prayers to the two gods
referred to.

This was always a sad moon for Her Majesty, it being the
anniversary of the death of her husband, the Emperor Hsien Feng,
who died on the 17th of that month. The fifteenth of the seventh
moon each year is the day of the festival for the dead, and early
in the morning the Court moved to the Sea Palace in order to
sacrifice. The Chinese hold that when a person dies, his soul
still remains on the earth, and on these anniversaries they burn
imitation money, the belief being that the soul of the departed
one will benefit to the extent of the amount of money so
represented. On the anniversary above referred to Her Majesty sent
for hundreds of Buddhist priests to pray for those unfortunate
people who had died without leaving anyone who could sacrifice for
them. On the evening of this day, Her Majesty and all her Court
ladies set out in open boats on the lake, where imitation lotus
flowers were arranged as lanterns, with a candle placed in the
centre, which formed a sort of floating light, the idea being to
give light to the spirits of those who had departed during the
year, so as to enable them to come and receive the blessings which
had been prepared for them. Her Majesty ordered us to light the
candles and place the flowers on the water ourselves, as she said
it would be appreciated by the spirits of the dead. Some of the
eunuchs had told Her Majesty that they had actually seen some of
these spirits, which assertion was thoroughly believed. Although
she had never seen them herself, she accounted for this by the
fact that she was of too high a rank and the spirits were afraid
of her, but she ordered all the rest of us to keep a sharp lookout
and tell her if we saw anything. Of course we didn't see anything,
but many of the Court ladies were so frightened that they closed
their eyes for fear they might see something supernatural.

Her Majesty was devoted to the late Emperor Hsien Feng, and she
was very sad and morose during this period. We all had to be very
careful indeed not to upset her in any way, as she would find
fault on the slightest provocation. She hardly had a word to say
to any of us, and cried almost incessantly. I could hardly
understand the reason for such grief, seeing that the Emperor had
died so many years previously. None of the Court ladies were
allowed to dress in light-coloured gowns during the whole of the
seventh moon. We all dressed either in dark blue or pale blue,
while Her Majesty herself dressed in black every day without
exception. Even her handkerchiefs were black. The theatres which
were usually opened on the first and fifteenth of each month, were
closed during the seventh moon. There was no music, and everything
was conducted in the most solemn manner; in fact, the whole Court
was in deep mourning.

On the morning of the seventeenth day of the seventh moon, Her
Majesty visited the late Emperor's tablet, and knelt there crying
for quite a while. In order to show respect for the late Emperor,
none of us were allowed to eat meat for three days. This being my
first year at the Palace, it appeared to me very strange, after
the customary gaiety and noise. Of course I felt very sorry for
Her Majesty, as I could see that it was a genuine display of grief
and was not in any way put on. As I was her favorite at that time,
she kept me close to her side during this sad period. The Young
Empress said to me one day: "Her Majesty is very much attached to
you, and I think you had better stay with her for the time being."
This I did, and I was so miserable myself that when Her Majesty
commenced crying I would cry also. When she saw that I was crying,
Her Majesty would immediately stop and ask me not to cry. She
would tell me that I was too young to cry, and that in any case I
did not know what real sorrow was as yet. During the conversations
we had at that time she would tell me quite a lot about herself.
On one occasion she said: "You know I have had a very hard life
ever since I was a young girl. I was not a bit happy when with my
parents, as I was not the favorite. My sisters had everything they
wanted, while I was, to a great extent, ignored altogether. When I
first came to the Court, a lot of the people were jealous of me
because I was considered to be a beautiful woman at that time. I
must say myself that I was a clever one, for I fought my own
battles, and won them, too. When I arrived at Court the late
Emperor became very much attached to me and would hardly glance at
any of the other ladies. Fortunately, I was lucky in giving birth
to a son, as it made me the Emperor's undisputed favorite; but
after that I had very bad luck. During the last year of his reign
the Emperor was seized with a sudden illness. In addition to this
the foreign soldiers burnt down the Palace at Yuen Ming Yuen, so
we fled to Jehol. Of course everybody knows what took place at
that time. I was still a young woman, with a dying husband and a
young son. The East Empress Dowager's nephew was a bad man, who
coveted the throne, which he had no right to in any event, as he
was not of royal blood. I would not wish anyone to experience what
I myself passed through at that time. When the Emperor was in a
dying condition, being practically unconscious of what was taking
place around him, I took my son to his bedside and asked him what
was going to be done about his successor to the throne. He made no
reply to this, but, as has always been the case in emergencies, I
was equal to the occasion, and I said to him: `Here is your son,'
on hearing which he immediately opened his eyes and said: `Of
course he will succeed to the throne.' I naturally felt relieved
when this was settled once and for all. These words were
practically the last he spoke, for he died immediately afterwards.
Although it is now so many years ago, I can see him now in that
dying condition, just as though it all happened only yesterday.

"I thought that I could be happy with my son as the Emperor Tung
Chi, but unfortunately he died before he was twenty years of age.
Since that time I have been a changed woman, as all happiness was
over as far as I was concerned when he died. I had also quite a
lot of trouble with the East Empress Dowager and found it very
difficult to keep on good terms with her. However, she died five
years after the death of my son. In addition to all this, when the
Emperor Kwang Hsu was brought to me as a baby three years old, he
was a very sickly child, and could hardly walk, he was so thin and
weak. His parents seemed to be afraid of giving him anything to
eat. You know his father was Prince Chung, and his mother was my
sister, so of course he was almost the same as my own son, in fact
I adopted him as such. Even now, after all my trouble on his
account, he is not in perfect health. As you know, I have had
plenty of other troubles beside these, but it is useless to
mention them now. I am disappointed with everything, as nothing
has turned out as I had expected." With this remark Her Majesty
commenced crying afresh. Continuing, she said: "People seem to
think that just because I am the Empress Dowager that I am bound
to be happy, but what I have just told you is not all. I have gone
through much more than that. If ever anything went wrong, I was
always the one who was blamed. The censors even dare to impeach me
once in a while. However, I am philosopher enough to take things
for what they are worth, otherwise I would have been in my own
grave long, long ago. Just imagine how small minded these people
are. Amongst other things they objected to my transferring my
Court to the Summer Palace during the hot weather, although I
could do no harm by being there. Even in the short time you have
spent at Court, you can see that I am unable to decide anything
alone, while whenever they want anything they consult with each
other and then present their petition to me, which, unless it is
something of a very serious nature, I never think of refusing."

After the time set apart for mourning had expired, we all went
back to the Summer Palace, where Miss Carl re-commenced her work
on Her Majesty's portrait. Her Majesty apparently soon got tired
of this portrait painting, for one day she asked me when I thought
it would be finished. She was afraid that it would not be finished
by the time the cold weather came on, when we always removed the
Court to the Forbidden City, and she said it would be a lot of
trouble and inconvenience to have to continue the portrait there.
I told Her Majesty that it could easily be arranged and that she
need not worry herself.

After I had been posing in Her Majesty's place for several days
Her Majesty asked me whether Miss Carl had said anything about it,
and if she did, I was to inform her that it was a command from Her
Majesty, and that I dare not make any further suggestions in that
respect. So we had no further trouble with Miss Carl after that. I
had, however, quite a lot of trouble with the eunuchs, who, in
spite of Her Majesty's instructions, were anything but polite to
Miss Carl. Of course Miss Carl herself did not know this. I tried
to make them behave better by threatening to tell Her Majesty
about them, which had a good effect for a while, but they were
soon as bad as ever.

At the commencement of the eighth moon, Her Majesty always
attended to the transplanting of her chrysanthemums, which was one
of her favorite flowers, so each day she would take us with her to
the west side of the lake and, assisted by us, would cut the tops
of the young plants and set them in flower pots. I was very much
surprised at this, as there were no roots, only the stems of the
flowers, but Her Majesty assured me that they would soon grow into
very pretty plants. Every day we went over to water these flowers
until they began to bud. In case it rained heavily, Her Majesty
would order some of the eunuchs to go over and cover up these
chrysanthemum plants with mats, so that they would not be broken.
It was characteristic of Her Majesty that, no matter what other
business she had to attend to, her flowers had her first
consideration and she would, if necessary, even go without her
usual rest in order to superintend them personally. She also spent
quite a time in looking after her orchard, where she had planted
apple trees, pear trees, etc. Another thing which I began to
notice was that when the spring and summer days had passed, she
got quite irritable and sad, while in the winter she was simply
unbearable. She loathed cold weather.

One day, during the eighth moon, Her Majesty was taken slightly
ill, and complained of suffering from severe headaches. This was
the only time I ever saw Her Majesty actually sick. She, however,
got up as usual in the morning, and held audience, but was unable
to take her luncheon, and very soon had to retire to her bed.
Several doctors were summoned, each of whom took her pulse. This
was quite a ceremony in itself. The doctors knelt at the bedside,
and Her Majesty stretched forth her arm, resting her hand upon a
small pillow which was provided for that purpose. After this each
doctor wrote out his prescription, all of which were different
from each other. We handed them to Her Majesty, who chose the one
which she thought was the nicest to take, and two attendants and
the doctor himself had to take a dose in her presence before she
would touch it. Then she would take it all right.

During this time it rained a great deal and was very hot. The
climate at this time of the year is very damp, which causes the
flies to make their appearance in millions. If there was one thing
more than another that Her Majesty detested it was these flies.
During the actual summer they were not so troublesome as at this
particular time. Of course every precaution was taken to keep them
away, a eunuch being posted at each door, provided with sort of a
switch made of horse hair fastened at the end of a bamboo pole. We
were never troubled by mosquitoes, however; in fact I never saw a
mosquito curtain in the Palace during the whole of my stay there.
These flies were an abomination, and in spite of all that could be
done a few would find their way into the rooms. Whenever they
alighted on Her Majesty she would scream, while if by any chance
one were to alight on her food she would order the whole lot to be
thrown away. This would spoil her appetite for the whole day and
put her into a terrible temper as well. Whenever she saw one
anywhere near her, she would order whoever happened to be present
to go and catch it. I myself often received this order, but I
detested them almost as much as Her Majesty did, they were so
dirty, and stuck to one's hands whenever they touched them.

After her illness Her Majesty was indisposed more or less for
quite a long time, and doctors were constantly in attendance. She
took so many different kinds of medicine that instead of getting
better she got worse and eventually contracted a fever. Her
Majesty was very much afraid of fevers of any kind and we had to
stay with her all night and all day and had to take our meals
whenever we could get away from her bedside for a few minutes.
Another peculiarity was Her Majesty's aversion for any kind of
perfume near her when she was sick, while when she was feeling
well she was simply smothered in it. The same applied to fresh
flowers; in spite of her love for them under ordinary conditions,
when she was sick she could not bear them anywhere near. Her
nerves became absolutely unstrung, as she was unable to sleep
during the day, and consequently the time passed very slowly to
her. In order to make the time pass a little less tediously, she
gave instructions for one of the better educated eunuchs to read
to her during the daytime. This reading generally consisted of
ancient Chinese history, poetry and all kinds of Chinese lore, and
while the eunuch was reading to her we had to stand by her
bedside, one of us being told off to massage her legs, which
seemed to soothe her somewhat. This same program was gone through
every day until she was completely herself again--some ten days
later.

One day Her Majesty asked me: "What kind of medicine does a
foreign doctor usually give in case of a fever? I have heard that
they make you take all kinds of pills. This must be very
dangerous, as you never know what they are made of. Here in China
all medicines are made from roots, and I can always find out
whether I am receiving the right medicine, as I have a book which
explains what each different medicine is for. Another thing I have
heard is that foreign doctors generally operate on you with a
knife, while we cure the same sickness by means of our medicine.
Li Lien Ying told me that one of our little eunuchs had a boil on
his wrist and someone advised him to go to the hospital. Of course
they didn't know what they would do, and the foreign doctor there
opened the boil with a knife, which frightened the child very
much. I was very much surprised when I heard he was all right
again in a couple of days." Continuing, Her Majesty said: "A year
ago one of the foreign ladies came to the Palace, and hearing me
cough a lot, gave me some black pills and told me to swallow them.
I did not like to offend her, so I took the pills and told her I
would take them by and bye. However, I was afraid to take them and
threw them away." Of course I answered that I didn't know much
about medicines, to which she replied that she had seen me take
foreign medicines whenever I was not feeling well. She then said:
"Of course I know there are people in Peking who do take the
medicines given them by foreign doctors and even some of my own
relatives patronize these foreigners also. They try not to let me
know, but I do know for all that. In any case, if they choose to
kill themselves by taking these things, it is none of my business;
that is the reason why, when they are sick, I never send my own
doctors to attend them."

When Her Majesty had completely recovered from her illness she
used to go out on the lake a great deal, sometimes in an open boat
and at other times in a steam launch. She always appeared to enjoy
this kind of thing. For some reason or other she always insisted
on taking the west side of the lake, which was very shallow, and
invariably the launch would get stuck fast in the mud, which
seemed to afford Her Majesty great enjoyment; she simply loved to
feel the launch strike the bottom. The open boats would then come
alongside and we would have to get out of the launch and enter the
boats and proceed to the top of the nearest hill to watch the
efforts of the eunuchs trying to refloat the launch. It was a
characteristic of Her Majesty to experience a keen sense of
enjoyment at the troubles of other people. The eunuchs knew this
quite well, and whenever opportunity offered, they would do
something which they thought would amuse Her Majesty. So long as
it was nothing of a serious nature Her Majesty would always
overlook it, but in case it proved serious or was carelessness,
she would always order them to be severely punished. Thus it was
very hard to tell just what to do in order to please her.

Another of Her Majesty's peculiarities was inquisitiveness. For
example: As I have stated before, it was the custom for Her
Majesty to have sweetmeats brought to her before every meal, and
after she had finished with them, the remainder were distributed
among the Court ladies. Whenever it happened that we were very
busy, we did not bother with the sweetmeats at all, which Her
Majesty very soon found out. One day, after she had finished
dining, she came and looked through the window to see what we were
doing, and saw some of the eunuchs eating the sweetmeats which she
had given to us. She did not say anything, but simply ordered that
the sweetmeats should be brought back again, making us believe
that she wanted some more herself. I knew that there was something
wrong, as she never ordered them back before. When she saw what
was left of them, she asked who had been eating so many, as they
were nearly all finished, but she got no reply--we were all too
scared. However, after thinking it over, I came to the conclusion
that it would be best to tell her the truth, for I was quite
certain that she knew anyhow. So I told her that we had all been
very busy and had forgotten all about the sweetmeats, and that the
eunuchs had come and taken them themselves, and I added that this
was not the first time they had done so. I was rather glad that
she had given me this opportunity to report the eunuchs, for Her
Majesty replied that if she intended the eunuchs to have
sweetmeats, she herself could give them some, but thought it a
lack of appreciation on our part not eating them ourselves after
she had been so kind as to provide them for us. She turned to me,
and said: "I am glad that you have told the truth, as I saw myself
what was happening." She gave orders that the offending eunuchs
should each have three months' wages deducted as a punishment, but
of course I knew very well they didn't mind that, as they were
making many times the amount of their salary in other ways. On my
return to the sitting room, one of the Court ladies said: "You
should not have told Her Majesty about the eunuchs, they are sure
to revenge themselves in some way." I asked how they could
possibly injure me in any way, as they were only servants, but she
told me that they would find some underhand way in which to get
even with me, this being their general custom. Of course I knew
the eunuchs were a bad lot, but could not see what cause they had
to be against me in any way. I knew they dare not say anything
against me to Her Majesty, so I forgot all about the matter. I
found out afterwards that one of the tricks they used to play on
any of the Court ladies who offended them was to try and prejudice
Her Majesty against us. For instance, if Her Majesty told one of
the eunuchs that a certain thing should be done, instead of
telling me what Her Majesty wanted, the eunuch would go off to one
of the other ladies and tell her. In this way Her Majesty would
get the impression that I was too lazy to wait upon her myself,
and of course the other lady would get all the credit. Although
Her Majesty was very kind to me, also the Young Empress, it was
very hard to get along with eunuchs, and it was not good policy to
offend them in any way. They regarded themselves as being
exclusively the servants of Her Majesty, the Empress Dowager, and
refused to take instructions from anybody else, consequently they
were often very rude to the other ladies of the Court, not even
excepting the Young Empress.

Everything proceeded as usual until the eighth moon, when the
Emperor was to sacrifice at the "Temple of the Sun." On this
occasion the Emperor wore a red robe.

About this time Mrs. Conger asked for a private audience, as she
wanted to see Her Majesty and at the same time see how the
portrait was progressing. Her Majesty replied that she would
receive her and gave orders accordingly. At this private audience
Mrs. Conger brought into the Court two of her relatives to be
presented to Her Majesty, besides Miss Campbell and a missionary
lady. As it was a private audience, the guests were conducted to
Her Majesty's private Palace. They were received in the hall which
was being used as studio for this lady artist, although Her
Majesty was out of patience with the portrait painting, and talked
to us a great deal about it, yet when she saw Mrs. Conger and the
others she was extremely polite and told them that the portrait
was going to be a masterpiece. She was in an unusually good humor
that day and told me to give orders to the eunuchs to open all the
buildings and show them to her guests. Her Majesty led the way
from one room to another and showed them her curios in the
different rooms, until she came to rest in one of the bedrooms,
when she ordered chairs to be brought in for the guests. There
were many chairs in this room, but they were really small thrones
of Her Majesty's, although they looked like any ordinary chairs.
The custom is that no matter what kind of a chair it may be, as
soon as she uses it, it is at once called her throne and no one is
allowed to sit on it thereafter unless the order is given by her.

During the time the eunuchs were bringing in the chairs kept
purposely for foreigners to use, one of the ladies of the party
made a mistake and sat upon one of Her Majesty's thrones. I
noticed her at once, and before I had a chance to warn her, Her
Majesty made a sign of annoyance to me. I went to this lady at
once and told her I wanted to show her something and naturally she
was obliged to get up. The trouble was this, although Her Majesty
felt that no one had the right to sit upon her throne, she
expected me to get this lady off the chair and at the same time
not to tell her the reason why. While I was busy interpreting for
her, she said in an undertone: "There she is again, sitting on my
bed. We had better leave this room." After this the ladies were
conducted to the refreshment room, and when they had partaken of
lunch, bade Her Majesty good-bye, leaving Miss Carl with us. As
usual we reported to her that we had seen the guests safely off.
She said to me: "That was a funny lady: first she sat upon my
throne, and then upon my bed. Perhaps she does not know what a
throne is when she sees one, and yet foreigners laugh at us. I am
sure that our manners are far superior to theirs. Another
thing--did you notice that Mrs. Conger handed a parcel to Miss
Carl out in the courtyard when she came in?" I replied that I had
noticed her passing something like a parcel, but could not tell
what the parcel contained. She thereupon told me to go and ask
Miss Carl what it was. At that time I had received so many
peculiar orders from Her Majesty that I was beginning to get
accustomed to them and used my own discretion in carrying out her
instructions. Therefore I did not ask Miss Carl, but set about
finding out for myself. However, when I began to look around for
the parcel, it had mysteriously disappeared and I could not find
the thing anywhere. This naturally worried me, knowing as I did
that Her Majesty liked her instructions carried out quickly. While
I was searching, one of the eunuchs came in and told me that Her
Majesty wanted to see me, and of course I had to go to her. Before
she could say anything to me, I informed Her Majesty that I had
not been able to ask Miss Carl about the parcel as she was asleep,
but would do so immediately she got up. Her Majesty said: "I don't
want Miss Carl to think I have told you to ask what the parcel
contains, otherwise she might think I am suspicious of what is
going on, so you must manage to get the information somehow
without mentioning the matter; you are clever enough to do that
much." Shortly afterwards, while I was walking along with Miss
Carl to Her Majesty's Palace, to proceed with the portrait, I
noticed that she was carrying the parcel in question, which was a
great relief to me, I can assure you. On arrival at the Palace,
Miss Carl said to me: "You need not trouble to pose at present, as
it is rather dark, and I can be painting the throne; you can look
through this magazine, if you like, to pass the time away." So I
opened up the parcel, which proved to contain nothing more than an
ordinary American monthly magazine. After glancing through the
book, I made an excuse to hurry away and inform Her Majesty.
However, she had already gone out for her usual trip on the lake,
so I took my chair and followed. When I reached the lake, Her
Majesty, who had seen me, sent a small boat and I was rowed out to
the launch. Before I could get a chance to speak, Her Majesty said
with a smile: "I know all about it, it was a book and Miss Carl
handed it to you to read." I was very much disappointed that I had
had my journey for nothing. I knew that the eunuchs would report
it to Her Majesty at the first opportunity, but I hardly expected
they would have done so already. Her Majesty was now quite
satisfied, and simply asked whether Miss Carl suspected that she
had enquired about the matter.

As I was about to return to Miss Carl, Her Majesty called me and
said: "There is one thing I want to tell you and that is whenever
any foreign ladies are visiting the Palace, always keep close to
the Emperor so that in the event of their speaking to him you can
interpret." I answered that so far whenever any foreigners were
present I was present also and did not think that anybody had held
any conversation with the Emperor whatsoever. She explained that
her reason for mentioning this was that she wanted me to be just
as courteous to the Emperor as I was to herself, and I was to
place myself entirely at his disposal whenever visitors were
present. Of course I knew very well that this was not the true
reason at all but that she wanted to take every precaution to
preclude the possibility of foreigners influencing the Emperor in
matters of reform, etc.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN

THE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL

 ON the fifteenth day of the eighth moon came the celebration of
the Mid-Autumn Festival, sometimes called the Moon Festival.

This name is derived from the belief which the Chinese hold that
the moon is not permanently round when full, but that on this
particular day it is a perfect circle. The ceremony which is gone
through is conducted entirely by the Court ladies and consists of
worshiping the moon as soon as it appears in the sky. In other
respects the celebrations are exactly the same as in the Dragon
Boat Festival, presents were exchanged between Her Majesty and the
Court officials. The festival concluded with a theatrical
performance which describes a scene in the moon. The belief is
that a beautiful maiden lives in the moon, her only companion
being a white rabbit, called a Jade Rabbit. According to the play
this rabbit escapes from the moon to the Earth and becomes a young
and beautiful girl. A golden rooster which lives in the sun,
becoming aware of the rabbit's descent to the earth, himself
descends from the sun and changes into a handsome prince. Of
course they very naturally meet and immediately fall in love. Now,
on the earth lived another rabbit--a red one, who, on finding out
what was going on, changed himself into a prince also and set
about making love to the beautiful maiden with the object of
cutting out the rooster. However, he was seriously handicapped
inasmuch as he was unable to change the color of his face, which
remained red, therefore his love making met with no success and
the rooster prince had it all his own way. At this point, the
beautiful maiden in the moon, on discovering her loss, sent the
soldiers of Heaven to re-capture her rabbit, with the result that
she was taken back to the moon and the rooster being left alone,
had no alternative but to reluctantly return to his home in the
sun.

During this performance the head eunuch brought a young man into
the courtyard, who kowtowed to Her Majesty. This was such an
unusual occurrence that everybody noticed it. I could see that he
was a stranger and did not belong to the Court and I wondered who
he could be. At the other end of the veranda I saw two or three of
the Court ladies whispering together and smiling. They finally
came over to me and asked if I knew who he was. I told them that
he was a stranger to me and they ought to know better than I did
as they had been at the Court much longer. Anyhow I gave it as my
opinion that he was decidedly ugly. That same evening Her Majesty
asked me whether I had noticed this young man, and told me that he
was the son of a very high Manchu official; that his father was
dead and that he had succeeded to the title and to a large amount
of money. I was surprised that Her Majesty should give such a
lengthy explanation about this young man, but I told her that I
did not think him very handsome. Her Majesty was talking in a very
serious manner but I did not think anything of the occurrence at
the time but a few days later while I was posing for the portrait
I heard Her Majesty whispering to my mother at the other end of
the room. I saw that Her Majesty was holding a photograph in her
hands which she showed to my mother, at the same time asking
whether my mother considered him good looking. My mother answered
"not very." On Her Majesty replying that beauty was not everything
I began to suspect that there was something going on which
directly concerned me. I began to think of some excuse in order to
get out of what I could plainly see was a proposed marriage
between myself and this gentleman. I knew that if Her Majesty had
made up her mind that I was to marry him I could not help myself,
but, at the same time, I made up my own mind that rather than
marry anyone whom I did not like, especially one I had never seen
before, I would leave the Court altogether. When Her Majesty
retired for her usual afternoon rest she told me she wanted to see
me for a moment. After beating about the bush for some time, she
asked me whether I would like to stay with her always or whether I
would like to go away again to some foreign country. I at once
answered that I was quite satisfied to stay with her as long as
she cared to have me but that when she was tired of me she could
then send me away. Her Majesty informed me that it had been her
intention to marry me to this young gentleman and asked my
opinion. I told her that I did not want to get married at all,
especially seeing that my father was sick at this time, and
leaving home to go to live apart from my family would break his
heart and perhaps be the cause of his premature death. Her Majesty
said that was no excuse as I should not have to go out of China
but would be able to see my father and family any time I wished. I
told Her Majesty that I would much rather stay with her altogether
and that I did not want to marry anybody. Her Majesty then said:
"I won't listen to any excuse. I have already explained everything
to your mother, but much to my surprise she said it would be
better to mention it to you first, on account of your having been
brought up differently from the rest of the Court ladies. Had it
not been for this fact I would simply have arranged everything
with your mother and the matter would have been settled so far as
you were concerned." I could not say anything in answer to this,
so commenced to cry. I told Her Majesty that I was not like the
rest of the Court ladies who pretended they did not want to marry,
when all the time they were simply looking forward to getting
married, if only for the change from the monotony of Court life. I
promised that I would stay with her forever, and that I had no
desire to go away from China again. I explained that I should not
have gone away at all had it not been that my father was
transferred to Paris. Her Majesty said: "Oh, well, I am very glad
that you did go away as you are more useful to me than you would
have been had you stayed in China all your life." After a lot more
discussion Her Majesty said: "Well, I will leave you to think the
matter over. If you don't like the young man I have chosen there
are plenty of others," which remark did not help me very much as I
could see that she meant to marry me off anyway. However, I had
managed to get out of it this time, and thought I would be able to
arrange matters satisfactorily should the question come up again.
Nothing further was said about the matter until nearly a month
later when I heard that a marriage had been arranged between this
gentleman and the daughter of one of the princes. So everything
ended very satisfactorily from my point of view.

The twenty-sixth day of the eighth moon was the occasion of
another celebration. At the time the Manchu Dynasty began, Emperor
Shung Chih, who had fought very hard to gain the throne, found
himself on the twenty-sixth day of the eighth moon, absolutely out
of provisions of every kind and it was necessary for him and his
army to live on the leaves of trees, which was the only form of
food obtainable at the time. Thus the anniversary of this day,
even up to the present time, is always celebrated by the Manchu
people, who deny themselves all luxuries, especially at the Court.
We did not eat any meat on that day, but only rice wrapped in
lettuce leaves. Chopsticks were also discarded and the food was
conveyed to the mouth by the hands alone. Even the Empress Dowager
was no exception to this rule. This is done in order to remind the
present generation of the privation suffered by their ancestors
who established the Manchu Dynasty.

Towards the close of the eighth moon Her Majesty's gourd plants,
which had been planted early in the spring, were ripening, and
each day she would take us all to see what progress they were
making. She would pick out those which she considered to be the
most perfect in form, i. e., those with the smallest waist and tie
ribbons around them so as not to lose sight of them. She pointed
to one of these plants one day, and said to me: "This reminds me
of yourself when dressed in foreign clothes. Surely you feel more
comfortable in the clothes you are now wearing." When these gourds
were quite ripe they were cut down and Her Majesty would scrape
the outer skin with a bamboo knife, afterwards wiping the fruit
with a wet cloth. They were then allowed to dry and after a few
days they would assume a brownish color, when they were ready for
hanging as ornaments in the Summer Palace. In one room alone there
were over 10,000 of these gourds, of different shapes. It was the
duty of the Court ladies to periodically wipe these gourds with a
cloth, in order to give them a shiny appearance, and also to
scrape any new ones which were pulled and prepare them for the
Palace. None of us cared very much about this work excepting Her
Majesty. One day whilst attending to these gourds I happened to
knock the top off one of the old ones which was Her Majesty's
particular favorite. I dared not go and tell Her Majesty what had
happened and one of the Court ladies suggested throwing the thing
away altogether and saying nothing about it as Her Majesty would
not be likely to find it out, having so many of them. However, I
finally decided to go and tell Her Majesty about it, and take
punishment if necessary. For a wonder Her Majesty did not make
much bother about it. She said: "Well it was quite an old one in
any case and the top was ready to drop off at any time; it so
happens that you were the one to wipe it, and of course it came
off. It can't be helped." I told Her Majesty that I was very much
ashamed at being so careless, especially as I knew it was one of
her favorites, and there the matter ended. All the rest of the
Court ladies were in the waiting room and were anxious to know how
I would get out of it, and when I told them they said that had it
been any of them there would have been a fine row. They laughed,
and said it must be nice to be a favorite which made me feel very
uncomfortable. I told the Young Empress exactly what had happened,
and she said I was quite right to tell Her Majesty the truth and
told me to be very careful as there was much jealousy going on.

At the beginning of the ninth moon the chrysanthemums commence to
bud and it was the duty of the ladies of the Court to go and trim
them each day by cutting away all the buds except one on each
stalk. This trimming gives the flower a better chance of
developing, a much larger blossom being the result. Even Her
Majesty would help with this work. She was very particular about
these plants, and would not allow any of us to meddle with them if
our hands were not perfectly cool, as to touch them with hot hands
would cause the leaves to shrivel up. These flowers are generally
in full bloom about the end of the ninth moon or beginning of the
tenth moon. Her Majesty had a wonderful gift of being able to tell
what kind of flower would bloom from each separate plant, even
before the buds appeared. She would say: "This is going to be a
red flower," and we would place a bamboo stick in the flower pot,
with the name written on it. Then another, Her Majesty would
declare to be a white one and we would place a similar bamboo
stick in the flower pot, with the description, and so on. Her
Majesty said: "This is your first year at the Palace and no doubt
you are surprised at what you have just seen and heard me say, but
I have never yet made a mistake. For you will see when the flowers
commence to bloom." It was a fact as everything turned out exactly
as she had predicted. None of us ever knew how she was able to
distinguish one from the other, but she was always right. I did
once ask her to explain how she was able to tell but she answered
that it was a secret.

All this time the portrait was proceeding very slowly and one day
Her Majesty asked me how long I thought it would be before it was
finished and what the custom in Europe was as regards remuneration
for such a portrait. I replied that it was customary to pay very
handsomely, but she would not hear of such a suggestion, saying
that in China it was not the custom and that it would be regarded
as an insult to offer money for such a service. She suggested
decorating Miss Carl as a reward for her services, which she
considered would be appreciated far more than a money present.
There was nothing for me to say at this time but I determined to
mention the matter again when a favorable opportunity occurred.

During the ninth moon a Russian circus visited Peking and of
course everybody talked of little else. Her Majesty, hearing so
much talk about this circus asked what it was like, and after we
had explained to her, she became very interested and said that she
would like to see it. My mother thought it would be a good idea to
have the circus brought up to the Summer Palace, where they could
perform, so she asked Her Majesty whether this might be done. Her
Majesty was delighted with the idea, and arrangements were
accordingly made for the performance. While everything was being
fixed, the people belonging to the circus, and the animals, were
quartered near our own house and we had to feed them at our own
expense. However, we wanted to show Her Majesty what a circus was
like so the expense did not matter. It took them two days to erect
the tent and make all necessary preparations, and during this time
Her Majesty received reports as to what was being done, and the
progress they were making.

The day before the performance, we noticed that Her Majesty, on
coming from her audience, looked very angry, and on our enquiring
what was the matter she informed my mother and myself that some
censors had raised objections against having this circus in the
Palace grounds, as there had never been anything of this kind
allowed before and they had begged Her Majesty to give up the
idea. Her Majesty was very angry, and said: "You see how much
power I have here; I cannot even have a circus without somebody
raising objections. I think we had better pay them something and
let them go away." Of course we agreed to anything she thought
best. After considering for a time Her Majesty jumped up and said:
"They have the tent up already; they will talk just the same
whether we have the circus or not; I will have it anyway." So the
performance duly took place and Her Majesty and all the Court were
delighted. One item consisted of a young girl walking and dancing
on a large globe. This especially pleased Her Majesty and she
insisted on the performance being repeated several times. Another
item of interest was the trapeze act. Of course nobody present
with the exception of my mother, sister and myself had ever seen a
circus performance before, and Her Majesty was very much afraid
that the man would fall from the trapeze and kill himself. Another
thing which interested Her Majesty was the bare-back riding, which
she thought simply wonderful. The only objection to the whole show
which she raised was when it was suggested to bring in the lions
and tigers, etc. She said it was not safe to bring wild beasts
into the Palace and that she would rather not see this part of the
performance. The proprietor of the circus, however, brought in a
small baby elephant which performed several clever tricks. This
delighted Her Majesty more than anything else and when the
proprietor saw how pleased she was he offered the elephant as a
present, which she accepted. However, after the performance was
over we tried to make him go through his tricks again but he would
not budge an inch, so we had to give it up as a bad job and send
him away to be placed along with the other elephants belonging to
the Palace.

Altogether there were three performances given by the circus, and
before the final performance, the circus Manager told me that he
would very much like to show the lions and tigers: there was no
chance of any accident and it really would be worth seeing. So
after a lot of discussion Her Majesty finally consented to allow
them to be brought in but on the distinct understanding that they
should not be let out of their cages.

When they were brought in the ring all the eunuchs gathered around
Her Majesty, and after remaining in the ring for a few minutes Her
Majesty ordered them to be taken away again. She said: "I am not
afraid for myself, but they might get loose and hurt some of the
people." This item finished the whole of the performance and the
circus departed richer by some Taels 10,000 which Her Majesty had
ordered to be given to them.

For the next couple of days we discussed the merits of the circus
but afterwards, Her Majesty, when referring to the subject,
expressed great disappointment with the whole thing. She said she
had expected something entirely different and far more wonderful.
This was another characteristic of Her Majesty; nothing pleased
her for more than five minutes at a time. She said to me: "I don't
see anything at all wonderful in foreign accomplishments. Take for
instance this portrait which this lady is painting. I don't think
it is going to be at all a good picture, it seems so rough. (Her
Majesty did not understand oil painting). Then again why should
she always want to have the things before her while painting them.
An ordinary Chinese artist could paint my dress, shoes, etc.,
after seeing the things once. She cannot be very much of an artist
in my opinion, though you need not tell her that I said so."
Continuing, Her Majesty said: "By the way, what do you talk about
when you are posing for this portrait of mine; although I don't
understand what she is saying, still I can see she has a lot to
say. Be sure not to tell her anything connected with the Court
life and do not teach her any Chinese. I hear that she often asks
what different things are called in Chinese, but don't tell her.
The less she knows the better for us. I can see that she has seen
nothing of our ordinary Court life, as yet. I wonder what she
would say if she were to see one of the eunuchs being punished, or
anything like that. She would think that we were savages, I
suppose. I noticed the other day, when I was angry, that you took
this lady artist away. This was very wise of you; it is better
that she should not see me in a temper, she might talk about it
afterwards. I wish this portrait was finished. The cool weather is
coming on and we have to open up the boxes and get our winter
clothes ready. You girls need winter clothes I know as you have
none but foreign dresses. Then, again, my birthday is next month
and there will be the usual celebrations. After that we return to
the Sea Palace, and what can we do with this artist? I suppose she
will have to go back and stay at the American Legation and come to
the Sea Palace each day until the work is finished. This will be a
lot of trouble as it is not ten minutes' drive as at present, but
nearer an hour's drive. And even if this can be satisfactorily
arranged, what about the Winter Palace in the Forbidden City? Try
and get to know how long she expects to be before it is finished."
This gave me an opportunity to tell Her Majesty that Miss Carl was
just as anxious to get the work finished as she was to have it
finished, but explained that Miss Carl had very little time to
paint as Her Majesty could spare very little time to give personal
sittings, and again, when Her Majesty went to lie down each
afternoon, Miss Carl had to stop painting as she was working in
the next room to Her Majesty's bedroom. Her Majesty replied:
"Well, if she expects me to sit for her all day long I will give
up the whole thing at once," and then added: "I think you yourself
are getting tired of sitting, and want me to take it up again, but
I have already had quite enough of it." Of course, I told her that
instead of being tired of it, I enjoyed sitting on Her Throne,
which I regarded as a great honor. I explained to Her Majesty that
Miss Carl did not like me to pose in her place, as she could not
get along so quickly as if she were to sit herself; but she simply
said that I was acting under her commands, and that should be
sufficient for me.

For the next ten days we were kept very busy selecting materials
for winter clothing and also official robes for my sister and
myself to be worn during the forthcoming birthday celebrations.
These dresses were full winter Court dresses, of red satin
embroidered with golden dragons and blue clouds, and were trimmed
with gold braid and lined with grey squirrel. The cuffs and
collars (which were turned down) were of sable. While Her Majesty
was giving one of the eunuchs instructions as to how these were to
be made, the Young Empress beckoned to me, and I went out. She
said: "You go and kowtow to Her Majesty as it is a great favor for
her to give you a dress trimmed with sable. This is usually only
worn by a Princess." So when I returned to the room I availed
myself of the first opportunity to kowtow and thank Her Majesty
for the great favor she had granted me. She answered: "You deserve
it, and I see no reason why you should not be treated as a
Princess anyway; many of the Princesses are not of the Imperial
family. Any title may be bestowed for special services rendered to
the country and you have been of more help to me than any other
Court lady I have ever had, and I can see that you are faithful in
the discharge of your duties. You may think I do not notice these
things, but I do. You are certainly entitled to be ranked as a
Princess, and in fact I never treat you different from the
Princesses, but rather better in many ways." Turning to a eunuch
she said: "Bring my fur cap here." This cap was made of sable,
trimmed with pearls and jade and Her Majesty explained that our
caps would be something after the same style except that the
crown, instead of being yellow as in the case of Her Majesty's
cap, would be red. I was naturally delighted. In addition to the
cap and full Court dress Her Majesty had two ordinary dresses made
for everyday wear, one lined with sheepskin and the other lined
with grey squirrel. Then she gave us four other dresses of finer
material, lined with black and white fox skin, and all trimmed
with gold braid and embroidered ribbons. In addition there were
two other dresses, one of a pale pink color, embroidered with one
hundred butterflies and the other of a reddish color embroidered
with green bamboo leaves. Several short jackets, also lined with
fur, were also included in Her Majesty's present, and several
sleeveless jackets went to complete the lot.

On coming out of the room, one of the Court ladies remarked that I
was very lucky to receive so many clothes from Her Majesty and
said that she had never received so many during the whole time she
had been at the Palace--nearly ten years. I could see she was
jealous. The young Empress, overhearing this conversation, joined
us and told her that when I arrived at the Palace I had nothing
but foreign clothes and how was I to manage if Her Majesty did not
get me the proper dresses. This incident was the beginning of
another unpleasant time for me with the ladies of the Court. At
first I took no notice until one day one of the girls attached to
the Palace joined in the unkind remarks. She said that before my
arrival she had been Her Majesty's particular favorite, but I gave
her to understand that she had no right to discuss me in any way
whatsoever. The Young Empress, who was present, spoke to them
about their treatment of me and said that some fine day I would be
telling Her Majesty about it. This seemed to have a good effect
for they never troubled me much afterwards with their talk.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN

THE SUMMER PALACE

 JUST about the end of the ninth moon Her Majesty began to tire of
doing nothing day after day, and said: "What is the use of waiting
until the first of the month to have the theatrical performance?
Let us have a performance to-morrow." So she gave instructions for
the eunuchs to prepare for the play, which should be staged
without the assistance of any outside actors. I might here mention
that certain of the eunuchs were specially trained as actors and
used to study their parts every day. Indeed, they were far
cleverer than the professionals from outside.

Her Majesty gave the head eunuch the list of the plays she wished
to be performed, which were for the most part dramatised fairy
tales, and we had a performance the next day.

After Her Majesty had gone to rest in the afternoon, during the
theatrical performance I met the Emperor returning to his own
Palace. I was surprised to see only one eunuch in attendance. This
was the Emperor's own private eunuch and he trusted him
implicitly. He asked me where I was going and I told him I was
going to my room to rest a while. He remarked that he had not seen
me for quite a long time, which made me laugh as I saw him every
morning at the audience. He said: "I don't get as much chance of
chatting with you as formerly since this portrait painting began.
I am afraid I am not making much progress with my English as I
have nobody to help me now that your time is occupied with this
lady artist. You appear to enjoy her company very much. All the
same I suppose it is very monotonous. Has she found out yet that
you are there simply to keep an eye upon her?" I told him that I
was very careful not to betray myself in any way and that I did
not think she suspected she was being watched.

The Emperor then said: "I understand there is a rumor to the
effect that when this lady has finished Her Majesty's portrait she
is going to paint mine. I should very much like to know who says
so." I told him this was the first I had heard about it so could
not say. I asked him whether he would like to have his portrait
painted but he only answered: "That is rather a difficult question
for me to answer. You know best whether I ought to have it painted
or not.

"I see Her Majesty having so many photographs taken and even the
eunuchs are in the picture." I understood at once what he meant,
so I asked him if he wished me to take him with my little kodak.
He looked surprised and asked: "Can you take pictures, too? If it
is not too risky for us, we might try it some day when we have an
opportunity. Don't forget, but I think we must be very careful."

He then changed the conversation by saying: "Well, now that we
have time to talk I want to ask you a question and I expect you to
answer me truly. What is the general opinion amongst the
foreigners regarding myself? Do they consider me a man of
character and do they think me clever? I am very anxious to know."
Before I could say anything in answer to this question he
continued: "I know very well that they regard me as nothing more
than a boy, and as being of no consequence at all. Tell me, is not
this so?" I replied that many foreigners had asked me about
him--as to what kind of man he was, but that they had never
expressed any opinion of their own regarding him excepting that
they understood he was in the best of health. "If any wrong
impression does exist regarding myself and my position at the
Court," continued the Emperor, "it is owing to the very
conservative customs of the Chinese Court. I am not expected to
either say or do anything on my own initiative, consequently
outsiders never hear much about me and I am regarded as being
nothing more than a figure-head. I know this is so. Whenever they
ask you about me in the future just explain to them exactly what
my position here is. I have plenty of ideas regarding the
development of this country but you know I am not able to carry
them out as I am not my own master. I don't think the Empress
Dowager herself has sufficient power to alter the state of things
existing in China at present, and even if she has, she is not
willing to. I am afraid it will be a long time before anything can
be done towards reform."

The Emperor went on to say how nice it would be if he were allowed
to travel about from place to place the same as the European
monarchs, but of course such a thing was out of the question for
him. I told him that several Princesses had expressed a wish to
visit the St. Louis Exposition and said I thought it would be a
good thing if that could be arranged as they would see for
themselves the difference between their own country and customs
and foreign countries and customs. The Emperor expressed doubts as
to this permission being granted as such a thing had never been
heard of before.

We talked for quite a long time, mostly about foreign customs, and
the Emperor remarked that he would very much like to visit Europe
and see for himself how things were carried on there.

Just then one of my eunuchs came and said that Her Majesty was
awake, so I had to hurry off to her room.

We now arrive at the tenth moon.

The first day it snowed, and the head eunuch enquired of Her
Majesty whether it was her intention to celebrate her birthday at
the Summer Palace as usual. As previously explained the Summer
Palace was Her Majesty's favorite place of abode; so she replied
in the affirmative and arrangements were accordingly made for the
celebration to be held there as usual. The head eunuch then
brought Her Majesty a list giving the names and ranks of all the
Princesses and the names of the wives and daughters of the Manchu
officials, and she selected those whom she wished to be present at
the celebrations. On this occasion she selected forty-five ladies,
who were duly informed that she desired their presence at the
Palace. I was standing behind Her Majesty's chair all this time,
and she turned and said: "Usually I do not ask many people to my
birthday celebrations, but on this occasion I have made an
exception as I want you to see the way they dress and how ignorant
they are of Court etiquette."

The celebrations commenced on the sixth day of the tenth moon.
Miss Carl, having returned to the American Legation in Peking for
the time being, my mother, my sister and myself went back to the
Palace again. Early on the morning of the sixth, the eunuchs
decorated the verandas with different colored silks and hung
lanterns all over the place and amongst the trees. At about seven
o'clock in the morning the visitors began to arrive and I quite
agreed with what Her Majesty had told me about them. The eunuchs
introduced them to all the Court ladies, but they seemed to have
very little to say, appearing very shy. They were then conducted
to the waiting room, but there were so many of them that we Court
ladies had to stand outside on the veranda. Some of them were very
expensively dressed, but their colors were, for the most part,
very old fashioned, and their manners very awkward. We watched
them for quite a while and then went off to report to Her Majesty.

On such occasions as this Her Majesty was generally in pretty good
spirits. She commenced asking us a lot of questions. Amongst other
things she asked whether we had noticed an elderly lady among the
visitors, dressed as a bride. She explained that this lady was the
only Manchu lady present who was married to a Chinese official,
and had been invited because of her previous connection with the
Court. Her Majesty said she had never seen her herself, but
understood that she was a very clever woman. We had not noticed
such a person, and suggested that perhaps she had not yet arrived.

Her Majesty dressed very quickly, and as soon as she was ready she
came into the hall, where the head eunuch brought in the visitors
and presented them to Her Majesty. We Court ladies were all
standing in a row behind the Throne. As they came in, some
kowtowed; others courtesied, while others did not do anything at
all, in fact nobody appeared to know what to do with herself. Her
Majesty spoke a few words of welcome and thanked them for the
presents they had sent her.

I would like to say here that, contrary to the general idea which
exists, Her Majesty always expressed her thanks for any present or
service rendered, no matter how insignificant.

Her Majesty could see plainly that everybody was embarrassed and
ordered the head eunuch to show them to their respective rooms,
and told them to make themselves at home and to go and take a
rest. They hesitated a moment, not knowing whether to go or not,
until Her Majesty said to us: "Take them and present them to the
Young Empress."

When we arrived at the Palace of the Young Empress they were duly
presented and were not nearly so shy as before. The Young Empress
informed them that in case they desired to know anything or to be
put right on any point of Court etiquette, the Court ladies would
be pleased to give them all necessary information and she decided
that the best way would be for each Court lady to have charge of
so many of the visitors, as it would not be nice to have any
mistakes occur during the ceremony, on the tenth. So we each were
allotted so many guests and had to look after them and instruct
them how to act on the different occasions.

During Her Majesty's afternoon rest I paid a visit to the guests I
was to take charge of. Among them was the bride referred to by Her
Majesty. So I went and made myself agreeable to her and found her
very interesting. She had evidently received a good education,
unlike the majority of Manchu ladies, as I found she could read
and write Chinese exceptionally well. I then explained to all of
them what they would have to do, and how to address Her Majesty,
should it be necessary to do so. I don't know whether I have
mentioned it previously, but whenever anybody spoke to Her
Majesty, they always addressed her as "Great Ancestor," and when
referring to themselves, instead of the pronoun "I," they would
say "Your slave." In all Manchu families a similar rule is
observed, the pronouns "You" and "I" being dispensed with and the
titles "Mother" and "Father" and the son's or daughter's first
name being substituted.

Her Majesty was very particular about this rule being strictly
observed.

For the next four days, until the day of the ceremony, these
visitors passed their time in learning the Court etiquette and
going to the theatre.

Every morning, as usual, we waited on Her Majesty and reported
anything of interest which had occurred during the previous day.
Then we all preceded Her Majesty to the theatre, where we awaited
her arrival standing in the courtyard. On Her Majesty appearing,
we would all kneel down until she had passed into the building
opposite the stage, kneeling in rows --first the Emperor, behind
him the Young Princess, next the Secondary wife, then the
Princesses and Court ladies, and last of all the visitors. The
first two days everything went of all right, but on the third
morning the Emperor, from whom we received the signal, suddenly
turned and said: "Her Majesty is coming." Down we all went on our
knees, the Emperor alone remaining standing and laughing at us. Of
course there was no sign of Her Majesty and everybody joined in
the laugh. He was never so happy as when he could work off a joke
like this.

On the evening of the ninth, none of the Court ladies went to bed,
as we all had to be up betimes on the morning of the tenth. The
visitors were told to proceed by chair to Her Majesty's special
Audience Hall on the top of the hill, where they were to await our
arrival. They arrived at the Audience Hall at three o'clock in the
morning, and we followed soon afterwards, arriving there about
daybreak. By and bye Her Majesty arrived and the ceremony
commenced. This ceremony in no way differed from the one
previously described in connection with the Emperor's birthday, so
there is no need to give particulars, except one thing. Very early
on the morning of the tenth, we had to bring another present to
her and each of us brought a hundred birds of various kinds. Each
year, on her birthday, Her Majesty did a very peculiar thing. She
would buy 10,000 birds with her own money, from her private purse
and set them free. It was a very pretty sight to see those huge
cages hung in the courtyard of the Audience Hall. Her Majesty
would select the most lucky hour and order the eunuchs to carry
the cages and to follow her. The hour selected was four o'clock in
the afternoon. Her Majesty took the whole Court with her to the
top of the hill, where there was a Temple. First she burnt sandal
wood and offered up prayers to the Gods, then the eunuchs, each
with a cage of birds, knelt in front of Her Majesty and she opened
each cage one after another and watched the birds fly away, and
prayed to the Gods that these birds should not be caught again.
Her Majesty did this very seriously and we asked each other in
whispers which bird we thought was the prettiest and would like to
keep it for ourselves. Among this lot there were a few parrots.
Some were pink; others were red and green; all were chained on
stands, and when the eunuchs broke the chains, the parrots would
not move. Her Majesty said: "How funny; each year a few parrots
will not go away at all and I have kept them until they died. Look
at them now. They won't go away." By this time the head eunuch
arrived. Her Majesty told him what had happened and he immediately
knelt down and said: "Your Majesty's great luck. These parrots
understand Your Majesty's kindness and would rather stay here and
serve Your Majesty." This ceremony is called "Fang Sheng." It is
considered a very meritorious action and will not fail of reward
in Heaven.

One of the Court ladies asked me what I thought of the parrots
that would not fly away, and I told her that it was really very
strange. She said: "It is very simple and not strange at all.
These eunuchs, ordered by the head one, have bought these parrots
long ago and trained them. During Her Majesty's afternoon rest,
these parrots were brought to the top of the very same hill every
day to accustom them to the place. The object of this is just to
please and otherwise fool Her Majesty, to make her feel happy and
believe that she is so merciful that even such dumb things would
rather stay with her." Continuing, she said: "The huge joke is
this: while Her Majesty is letting the birds free, there are a few
eunuchs waiting at the rear of the hill to capture them and sell
them again, and so, no matter how Her Majesty prays for their
freedom, they will be caught at once."

The celebrations were continued until the thirteenth day. Nobody
did any work and all was gaiety and enjoyment, the theatre being
open every day. Towards the close of the thirteenth day the
visitors were informed that the celebrations were at an end and
they made arrangements to leave early the next morning. They all
bade Her Majesty good-bye that evening and departed early the
following day.

For the next few days we were all busy preparing for removing to
the Sea Palace. Her Majesty consulted her book and finally
selected the 22d as being the most favorable day for this removal.
So at six o'clock on the morning of the 22d the whole Court left
the Summer Palace. It was snowing very heavily and the journey was
only accomplished with great difficulty. Of course we were all in
chairs, as usual, and the eunuchs who were not employed as
chair-bearers rode horseback. Many of the horses fell on the
slippery stones and one of Her Majesty's chair-bearers also
slipped and brought Her Majesty to the ground. All of a sudden I
thought something dreadful had happened, horses galloping and
eunuchs howling: "Stop! Stop!!" I heard someone saying: "See if
she is still alive." The whole procession stopped and blocked the
way. This happened on the stone road just before entering the
Western Gate. Finally we saw that Her Majesty's chair was resting
on the ground, so we all alighted and went forward to see what had
happened. A great many people were talking excitedly all at the
same time, and for a moment I was rather frightened (for just
about that time we heard a rumor that some of the revolutionists
were going to take the life of the whole Court, and, although we
heard that, we did not dare tell Her Majesty), so I immediately
went to her chair and found her sitting there composedly giving
orders to the chief eunuch not to punish this chair-bearer, for he
was not to blame, the stones being wet and very slippery. Li Lien
Ying said that would never do, for this chair-bearer must have
been careless, and how dare he carry the Old Buddha in this
careless way. After saying this, he turned his head to the beaters
(these beaters, carrying bamboo sticks, went everywhere with the
Court, for such occasions as this) and said: "Give him eighty
blows on his back." This poor victim, who was kneeling on the
muddy ground, heard the order. The beaters took him about a
hundred yards away from us, pushed him down and started to do
their duty. It did not take very long to give the eighty blows
and, much to my surprise, this man got up, after receiving the
punishment, as if nothing had happened to him. He looked just as
calm as could be. While we were waiting a eunuch handed me a cup
of tea, which I presented to Her Majesty, and asked her if she was
hurt. She smiled and said it was nothing, ordering us to proceed
on our journey. I must explain about this tea; the eunuchs had it
prepared all the time and always carried a little stove along with
hot water. Although this went every time when the Court moved, it
was seldom used.

As usual, all the Court ladies take a short cut to the Palace, so
as to be ready to receive Her Majesty, when she arrived. After
waiting in the courtyard for quite a long time, during which we
were nearly frozen, Her Majesty arrived, and we all knelt until
she had passed, and then followed her into the Palace. Her Majesty
also complained of the cold and ordered that fires should be
brought into the hall. These fires were built in brass portable
stoves lined with clay, and were lighted outside and brought into
the hall after the smoke had passed off somewhat. There were four
stoves in all. All the windows and doors were closed, there being
no ventilation of any description, and very soon I began to feel
sick. However, I went on with my work getting Her Majesty's things
in order until I must have fainted, for the next thing I
remembered was waking up in a strange bed and inquiring where I
was, but on hearing Her Majesty giving orders in the next room, I
knew it was all right. One of the Court ladies brought me a cup of
turnip juice which Her Majesty said I was to drink. I drank it and
felt much better. I was informed that Her Majesty had gone to
rest, and so I went off to sleep again myself. When I awoke, Her
Majesty was standing by my bedside. I tried to get up, but found
that I was too weak, so Her Majesty told me to lie still and keep
quiet and I would soon be all right again. She said that I had
better have a room close to her bedroom, and gave instructions for
the eunuchs to remove me there as soon as it was prepared. Every
few minutes Her Majesty would send to inquire how I was
progressing and whether I wanted anything to eat. It was the
custom to stand up whenever receiving a message from Her Majesty,
but it was out of the question for me to do so, although I tried,
with the result that I made myself worse than ever.

Towards evening the head eunuch came to see me and brought several
plates of sweetmeats. He was very nice, and told me that I was
very fortunate, as Her Majesty very rarely bothered herself about
any of the Court ladies and that evidently she had taken a fancy
to me. He sat talking for some little time, and told me to eat
some of the sweetmeats. Of course I was not able to eat anything
at all, let alone sweetmeats, so I told him to leave them and I
would eat them later. Before leaving he said that in case I wanted
anything I was to let him know. This visit was a great surprise to
me, as usually he took very little notice of any of us, but I was
told afterwards that the reason he was so nice was because Her
Majesty showed such an interest in me.

The next morning I was able to get up and resume my duties. I went
in to see Her Majesty and kowtowed to her, thanking her for her
kindness during my indisposition. Her Majesty said that the head
eunuch had told her the previous evening that I was much better
and that she was glad I was up and about again. She said it was
nothing serious, simply that I was unaccustomed to the fumes from
the fires, which had gone to my head.

As the snow had stopped falling, Her Majesty decided that the next
day we would go and choose a place for Miss Carl to continue the
painting. I suggested that perhaps it would be better if we waited
until Miss Carl arrived herself, so that she could choose a
suitable place for her work, but Her Majesty said that would not
do at all, because if it were left to Miss Carl, doubtless she
would choose some impossible place. Of course there were many
parts of the Palace which were kept quite private and Miss Carl
would not be allowed to go there. So the next day Her Majesty and
myself set out to find a place. After visiting many different
rooms, all of which were too dark, we finally fixed on a room on
the lake side of the Palace. Her Majesty said: "This is very
convenient, as you can go to and fro either by chair or by water.
I found that it took about three-quarters of an hour by chair to
get to the Palace Gate, and rather less than that by boat. I was
expecting to return to stay at the Palace with Her Majesty, but it
was finally decided that this would not do, as it would not be
policy to allow Miss Carl, who was staying at the American
Legation, to go in and out of the Palace Gate alone, so Her
Majesty said it would be better for me to stay at my father's
place in the city and bring Miss Carl to the Palace each morning,
returning with her in the evening. This was anything but pleasant,
but I had no other alternative than to obey Her Majesty's
instructions.

When Miss Carl arrived at the Palace the next day and saw the room
which had been selected for her to work in, she was not at all
pleased. In the first place she said it was too dark, so Her
Majesty ordered the paper windows to be replaced by glass. This
made the room too bright, and Miss Carl asked for some curtains so
as to focus the light on the picture. When I informed Her Majesty
of this request, she said: "Well, this is the first time I have
ever changed anything in the Palace except to suit myself. First I
alter the windows, and she is not satisfied, but must have
curtains. I think we had better take the roof off, then perhaps
she may be suited." However, we fixed up the curtains to Miss
Carl's satisfaction.

When Her Majesty examined the portrait to see how it was
progressing, she said to me: "After all the trouble we have had
over this picture, I am afraid it is not going to be anything very
wonderful. I notice that the pearls in my cape are painted in
different colors; some look white, some pink, while others are
green. You tell her about it." I tried to explain to Her Majesty
that Miss Carl had simply painted the pearls as she saw them,
according to the different shades of light, but Her Majesty could
not understand that at all and asked if I could see anything green
about them, or pink either. I again explained that this was simply
the tints caused by the light falling on the pearls, but she
replied that she could not see any shade except white. However,
after a while she did not seem to trouble any further about the
matter.

Situated in a room near Her Majesty's bedroom in the Sea Palace
was a Pagoda, about ten feet in height, made of carved sandalwood.
This contained various images of Buddha, which Her Majesty used to
worship every morning. The ceremony consisted of Her Majesty
burning incense before the Pagoda, while a Court lady was told off
each day to kowtow before the images. Her Majesty told me that
this Pagoda had been in the Palace for more than a hundred years.
Among the different images was one representing the Goddess of
Mercy. This image was only about five inches in height and was
made of pure gold. The inside was hollow and contained all the
principal anatomical parts of the human body, made out of jade and
pearls. This Goddess of Mercy was supposed to possess wonderful
powers and Her Majesty often worshiped before it when in any
trouble, and maintained that on many occasions her prayers had
been answered. She said: "Of course, when I pray to the image, I
pray earnestly, not the same as you girls, who simply kowtow
because it is your duty and then get away as quickly as possible."
Her Majesty went on to say that she was quite aware that many of
the people in China were discarding the religion of their
ancestors in favor of Christianity, and that she was very much
grieved that this was so.

Her Majesty was a firm believer in the old Chinese superstitions
connected with the Sea Palace, and during one of our conversations
she told me I was not to be surprised at anything I saw. She said
it was quite a common occurrence for a person walking beside you
to suddenly disappear altogether, and explained that they were
simply foxes who took human shape to suit their purpose. They had
probably lived in the Sea Palace for thousands of years and
possessed this power of changing their form at will. She said that
no doubt the eunuchs would tell me they were spirits or ghosts,
but that was not true: they were sacred foxes and would harm
nobody. As if to confirm this superstition, one evening, a few
days later, my fire having gone out, I sent my eunuch to see if
any of the other Court ladies were awake, and if so, to try to get
me some hot water. He went out taking his lantern along with him,
but he returned almost immediately with a face as white as chalk.
On inquiring what was the matter, he replied: "I have seen a
ghost: a woman, who came up to me, blew the light out and
disappeared." I told him that perhaps it was one of the servant
girls, but he said "No"; he knew all the women attached to the
Palace and he had never seen this one before. He stuck to it that
it was a ghost. I told him that Her Majesty had said there were no
ghosts, but that it might be a fox which had taken human shape. He
replied: "It was not a fox. Her Majesty calls them foxes, because
she is afraid to call them ghosts." He went on to tell me that
many years previously the head eunuch, Li Lien Ying, while walking
in the courtyard back of Her Majesty's Palace, saw a young servant
girl sitting on the edge of the well. He went over to ask her what
she was doing there, but on getting closer he found that there
were several other girls there also, and on seeing him approach,
they all deliberately jumped down the well. He immediately raised
the alarm, and on one of the attendants coming forward with a
lantern, he explained what had occurred. The attendant showed him
that it was impossible for anybody to jump into the well, as it
was covered with a large stone. My eunuch said that a long time
before this several girls did actually commit suicide by jumping
down this well, and that what Li Lien Ying had seen were the
ghosts of these girls, and nothing more. It is believed by the
Chinese that when a person commits suicide their spirit remains in
the neighborhood until such time as they can entice somebody else
to commit suicide, when they are free to go to another world, and
not before. I told him that I did not believe such things and that
I would very much like to see for myself. He replied: "You will
only want to see it once; that will be sufficient."

Things went along in the usual way until the first day of the
eleventh moon, when Her Majesty issued orders to the Court that as
the eleventh moon contained so many anniversaries of the deaths of
previous rulers of China, the usual theatrical performance would
be eliminated and the Court dress would in addition be modified to
suit the occasion. On the ninth day the Emperor was to go and
worship at the Temple of Heaven. So, as was customary on all these
occasions, he confined himself to his own private apartments for
three days before the ninth, during which time he held no
communication whatsoever with anybody excepting his private
eunuchs. Not even the Young Empress, his wife, was allowed to see
him during these three days.

This ceremony did not differ very materially from the other
sacrifices, except that pigs were killed and placed on the
numerous altars of the Temple, where they remained for a time,
after which they were distributed among the different officials.
The eating of the flesh of these pigs, which had been blessed, was
believed to bring good luck and prosperity, and the officials who
were presented with them considered themselves greatly favored by
Her Majesty. Another difference was that the Emperor could not
appoint a substitute to officiate for him; but must attend in
person, no matter what the circumstances might be. The reason for
this was, that according to the ancient law, the Emperor signs the
death warrant of every person sentenced to death, record of which
is kept in the Board of Punishments. At the end of the year the
name of each person executed is written on a piece of yellow paper
and sent to the Emperor. When the time for worshiping at the
Temple arrives, he takes this yellow paper and burns it in order
that the ashes may go up to Heaven and his ancestors know that he
has been fearless and faithful, and has done his duty according to
the law.

As this ceremony of worshiping at the Temple of Heaven was to take
place in the Forbidden City, in spite of Her Majesty's dislike to
the place, she commanded that the whole of the Court be
transferred there, her reason for this being that she did not wish
to be away from the Emperor's side even for an hour. So we all
moved to the Palace in the Forbidden City. After the ceremony was
over, the Court was to return to the Sea Palace, but as the
thirteenth day was the anniversary of the death of the Emperor
Kang Hsi, it was decided that we should remain in the Forbidden
City, where the ceremony was to be held. The Emperor Kang Hsi
ruled over the Chinese Empire for sixty-one years, the longest
reign of any Chinese Ruler up to the present time, and Her Majesty
told us that he was the most wonderful Emperor China had ever had
and that we must respect his memory accordingly.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

THE AUDIENCE HALL

 ON the fourteenth day of the eleventh moon, after the morning
audience, Her Majesty informed us that there was a likelihood of
war breaking out between Russia and Japan and that she was very
much troubled, as although it actually had nothing whatever to do
with China, she was afraid they would fight on Chinese territory
and that in the long run China would suffer in some way or other.
Of course we did not bother ourselves about it much at the moment,
but the next morning the head eunuch reported to Her Majesty that
fifty eunuchs were missing. As there was no apparent reason for
this, everybody was much excited. There was no rule against any of
the eunuchs going into the city after their duties were ended,
providing they returned before the Palace Gate was closed, but
when on the following morning it was reported that another hundred
eunuchs had also disappeared, Her Majesty at once said: "I know
now what the trouble is; they must have heard what I said about
this war coming on and are afraid there may be a repetition of the
Boxer trouble, and so they have cleared out." It was the custom
whenever a eunuch was missing to send out search parties and have
him brought back and punished, but in the present instance Her
Majesty gave instructions that nothing was to be done about
recapturing them. One morning, however, one of Her Majesty's
personal attendants was missing, which made her furious. She said
that she had been very kind to this particular eunuch in many
ways, and this was all the thanks she got; he ran away at the
first sign of trouble. I myself had noticed how good she had been
to this eunuch, but I was not really sorry that he had left, as he
used to take advantage of every opportunity of getting some of the
Court ladies into trouble.

These disappearances continued from day to day until Her Majesty
decided that it would be safer for us to remain in the Forbidden
City until the following spring at any rate.

On inquiring from my eunuch the cause of these disappearances, he
said that it was just as Her Majesty suspected; they were afraid
of getting mixed up in another such affair as the Boxer trouble,
and added that he was not a bit surprised at Her Majesty's
favorite eunuch going along with the rest. He further told me that
even Li Lien Ying himself was not to be absolutely relied upon, as
at the time of Her Majesty's leaving Peking for Shi An during the
Boxer movement, he had feigned sickness, and followed a little
later, so that in the event of anything happening, he would be
able to return and make his escape. While talking about Li Lien
Ying, my eunuch told me in confidence that he was responsible for
the death of many innocent people, mostly eunuchs. He had
unlimited power at the Court, and it was very easy for him to get
anybody put away who offended him or to whom, for some reason or
another, he took a dislike. Furthermore, the eunuch informed me
that, although not generally known, Li Lien Ying was addicted to
opium-smoking, which habit he indulged in very freely. Even Her
Majesty was unaware of this, as opium-smoking was strictly
forbidden in the Palace.

Each morning there was fresh news regarding the trouble between
Russia and Japan, and of course everybody gradually became very
much excited at the Palace. One day Her Majesty summoned the whole
of the Court to a special audience and there informed us that
there was no need for us to get excited at all; that if any
trouble did occur, it was none of our business and we should not
be interfered with, as the spirits of our ancestors were watching
over us, and she did not want to hear any more talk and gossip on
the subject. However, she summoned all of the Court ladies to her
apartment and there commanded us to pray to the spirits of our
ancestors to protect us, which plainly showed that she was just as
much worried as we were ourselves. In spite of what she had said
with reference to gossiping about this trouble, Her Majesty often
spoke about it herself, and during one of our conversations she
said she wished she could get information each day as to what was
actually occurring, so I suggested that it would be very easy to
get all the latest news by taking the foreign papers and also
Reuter's specials. Her Majesty jumped at the suggestion and told
me to have these sent each day to my father's house in his name,
and have them brought to the Palace, where I could translate them
for her. I told her that my father received all these papers as
they were published, so I arranged that they should be brought
along as directed by Her Majesty. Each morning during the audience
I translated into Chinese all the war news, but the telegrams
began to arrive so rapidly that it soon became quite impossible
for me to write them all out in Chinese, so I told Her Majesty
that I would read and translate them into Chinese as they arrived.
This was much quicker and interested Her Majesty so much that she
insisted on my not only translating the war news, but everything
else of interest in the papers. Especially was she interested in
all news appertaining to the movements, etc., of the crowned heads
of Europe, and was very plainly astonished when she learned that
their every movement was known. She said: "Here, at any rate, it
is more private, for nobody outside the Palace ever knows what is
going on inside, not even my own people. It would be a good thing
if they did know a little more, then perhaps all these rumors
about the Palace would stop."

Of course, during our stay in the Forbidden City, Miss Carl
attended each morning to work on the portrait. We had given her a
nice room, which seemed to suit her very well, and Her Majesty had
instructed me to let her have every convenience possible to assist
her, as she was getting tired of the business and would like to
see it finished quickly. Her Majesty hardly ever went near the
place herself, but when she did go, she would be most affable and,
really, one would think that it was the greatest pleasure of her
life to go and inspect the portrait.

Things went very slowly during this eleventh moon on account of
the Court being in mourning, so one day Her Majesty suggested that
she should show us round the Forbidden City. First we proceeded to
the Audience Hall. This differs somewhat from the Audience Hall of
the Summer Palace. To enter, one must mount some twenty odd steps
of white marble, with rails on either side of the steps made of
the same material. At the top of the steps a large veranda,
supported by huge pillars of wood, painted red, surrounded the
building. The windows along this verandah were of marvellously
carved trellis-work, designed to represent the character "Shou"
arranged in different positions. Then we entered the hall itself.
The floor is of brick, and Her Majesty told us that all these
bricks were of solid gold and had been there for centuries. They
were of a peculiar black color, doubtless painted over, and were
so slippery that it was most difficult to keep on one's feet. The
furnishing was similar to that in the Audience Halls in the Summer
Palace and in the Sea Palace, with the exception that the throne
was made of dark brown wood inlaid with jade of different colors.

The Hall was only used for audience on very rare occasions, such
as the birthday of the Empress Dowager and New Year's Day, and no
foreigner has ever entered this building. All the usual audiences
were held in a smaller building in the Forbidden City.

After spending some little time in the Audience Hall, we next
visited the Emperor's quarters. These were much smaller than those
occupied by Her Majesty, but were very elaborately furnished.
There were thirty-two rooms, many of which were never used, but
all were furnished in the same expensive style. In the rear of
this building was the Palace of the Young Empress, which was
smaller still, having about twenty-four rooms in all, and in the
same building three rooms were set apart for the use of the
Secondary wife of the Emperor. Although close together, the
Palaces of the Emperor and his wife were not connected by any
entrance, but both buildings were surrounded by verandas
connecting with Her Majesty's apartments, which were quite a
distance away. There were several other buildings, which were used
as waiting rooms for visitors. In addition to the above, there
were several buildings which were not used at all; these were
sealed and nobody seemed to know what they contained, or whether
they contained anything at all. Even Her Majesty said she had
never been inside these buildings, as they had been sealed for
many years. Even the entrance to the enclosure containing these
buildings was always closed, and this was the only occasion that
any of us ever even passed through. They were quite different in
appearance from any other buildings in the Palace, being very
dirty and evidently of great age. We were commanded not to talk
about the place at all.

The apartments of the Court ladies were connected with those of
Her Majesty, but the rooms were so small one could hardly turn
round in them; also they were very cold in winter. The servants'
quarters were at the end of our apartments, but there was no
entrance and they could only be reached by passing along our
veranda, while the only entrance we ourselves had to our rooms was
by passing along Her Majesty's veranda. This was Her Majesty's own
idea, in order that she could keep an eye on all of us and could
see when we either went out or came in.

Her Majesty now conducted us to her own Palace, and pausing a
little said: "I will now show you something which will be quite
new to you." We entered a room adjoining her bedroom, which was
connected by a narrow passage some fifteen feet in length. On
either side the walls were painted and decorated very beautifully.
Her Majesty spoke to one of the eunuch attendants, who stooped
down and removed from the ground at each end of this passage two
wooden plugs which were fitted into holes in the basement. I then
began to realize that what I had hitherto regarded as solid walls
were in reality sliding panels of wood. These panels when opened
revealed a kind of grotto. There were no windows, but in the roof
was a skylight. At one end of this room or grotto was a large
rock, on the top of which was a seat with a yellow cushion, and
beside the cushion an incense burner. Everything had the
appearance of being very old. The room contained no furniture of
any description. One end of this room led into another passage
similar to the one already described, having sliding panels, which
led into another grotto, and so on; in fact the whole of the
palace walls were intersected by these secret passages, each
concealing an inner room. Her Majesty told us that during the Ming
dynasty these rooms had been used for various purposes,
principally by the Emperor when he wished to be alone. One of
these secret rooms was used by Her Majesty as a treasure room
where she kept her valuables. During the time of the Boxer
trouble, she hid all her valuables here before she fled. When she
returned and opened this secret room she found everything intact,
not one of the vandals who ransacked the Palace even suspecting
there was such a place.

We returned to our veranda, and on looking around for the rooms we
had just vacated, could see nothing excepting black stone walls,
so well were they hidden. One of the principal reasons for Her
Majesty's dislike to the Forbidden City was the mysteries which it
contained, many of which she did not know of herself. She said: "I
don't even talk about these places at all, as people might think
that they were used for all kinds of purposes."

While at the Palace in the Forbidden City I met the three
Secondary wives of the previous Emperor Tung Chi, son of the
Empress Dowager, who, since the death of the Emperor, had resided
in the Forbidden City and spent their time in doing needlework,
etc., for Her Majesty. When I got to know them I found that they
were highly educated, one of them, Yu Fai, being exceptionally
clever. She could write poetry and play many musical instruments,
and was considered to be the best educated lady in the Empire of
China. Her knowledge of western countries and their customs
surprised me very much; she seemed to know a little bit of
everything. I asked how it was that I had never seen them before,
and was informed that they never visited Her Majesty unless
commanded by her to do so, but that when Her Majesty stayed in the
Forbidden City, of course they had to call and pay their respects
each day. One day I received an invitation to visit them in their
Palace. This was separated from all the other buildings in the
city. It was rather a small building, and very simply furnished,
with just a few eunuchs and servant girls to wait upon them. They
said they preferred this simple life, as they never received any
visitors and had nobody to please but themselves. Yu Fai's room
was literally packed with literature of all descriptions. She
showed me several poems which she had written, but they were of a
melancholy character, plainly showing the trend of her thoughts.
She was in favor of establishing schools for the education of
young girls, as only very few could even read or write their own
language, and she suggested that I should speak to Her Majesty
about it at the first opportunity. In spite of her desire to see
western reforms introduced into China, however, she was not in
favor of employing missionary teachers, as these people always
taught their religion at the expense of other subjects, which she
feared would set the Chinese against the movement.

Toward the end of the eleventh moon Her Majesty granted an
audience to the Viceroy of Chihli, Yuan Shih Kai, and as this
particular day was a holiday and Miss Carl was absent, I was able
to attend. Her Majesty asked him for his opinion of the trouble
between Russia and Japan. He said that although these two
countries might make war against each other, China would not be
implicated in any way, but that after the war was over, there was
sure to be trouble over Manchuria. Her Majesty said she was quite
aware of that, as they were fighting on Chinese territory, and
that the best thing for China to do would be to keep absolutely
neutral in the matter, as she had quite enough of war during the
China-Japan war. She said it would be best to issue orders to all
the officials to see that the Chinese did not interfere in any
way, so as not to give any excuse for being brought into the
trouble.

She then asked his opinion as to what would be the result in the
event of war--who would win. He said that it was very hard to say,
but that he thought Japan would win. Her Majesty thought that if
Japan were victorious, she would not have so much trouble over the
matter, although she expressed doubts as to the outcome, saying
that Russia was a large country and had many soldiers, and that
the result was far from certain.

Her Majesty then spoke about the condition of things in China. She
said that in case China were forced into war with another nation,
we should be nowhere. We had nothing ready, no navy and no trained
army, in fact nothing to enable us to protect ourselves. Yuan Shih
Kai, however, assured her there was no need to anticipate any
trouble at present so far as China was concerned. Her Majesty
replied that in any event it was time China began to wake up and
endeavor to straighten things out in some way or other, but she
did not know where to begin; that it was her ambition to see China
holding a prominent position among the nations of the world and
that she was constantly receiving memorials suggesting this reform
and that reform, but that we never seemed to get any further.

After this audience was over, Her Majesty held an audience with
the Grand Council. She told them what had been said during her
interview with Yuan Shih Kai, and of course they all agreed that
something should be done. Several suggestions were discussed with
regard to national defense, etc., but a certain Prince said that
although he was in perfect sympathy with reform generally, he was
very much against the adoption of foreign clothing, foreign modes
of living, and the doing away with the queue. Her Majesty quite
agreed with these remarks and said that it would not be wise to
change any Chinese custom for one which was less civilized. As
usual, nothing definite was decided upon when the audience was
over.

For the next few days nothing was talked of but the war, and many
Chinese generals were received in audience by Her Majesty. These
audiences were sometimes very amusing, as these soldiers were
quite unaccustomed to the rules of the Court and did not know the
mode of procedure when in the presence of Her Majesty. Many
foolish suggestions were made by these generals. During one of the
conversations Her Majesty remarked on the inefficiency of the navy
and referred to the fact that we had no trained naval officers.
One of the generals replied that we had more men in China than in
any other country, and as for ships, why we had dozens of river
boats and China merchant boats, which could be used in case of
war. Her Majesty ordered him to retire, saying that it was
perfectly true that we had plenty of men in China, but that the
majority of them were like himself, of very little use to the
country. After he had retired, everybody commenced to laugh, but
Her Majesty stopped us, saying that she did not feel at all like
laughing, she was too angry to think that such men held positions
as officers in the army and navy. One of the Court ladies asked me
why Her Majesty was so angry with the man for mentioning the river
boats, and was very much surprised when I informed her that the
whole of them would be worse than useless against a single war
vessel.

Just about the end of the eleventh moon Chang Chih Tung, Viceroy
of Wuchang, arrived, and was received in audience. Her Majesty
said to him: "Now, you are one of the oldest officials in the
country, and I want you to give me your unbiased opinion as to
what effect this war is going to have on China. Do not be afraid
to give your firm opinion, as I want to be prepared for anything
which is likely to happen." He answered that no matter what the
result of the war might be, China would in all probability have to
make certain concessions to the Powers with regard to Manchuria
for trade purposes, but that we should not otherwise be interfered
with. Her Majesty repeated what had been discussed at the previous
audiences on this subject and also regarding reform in China.
Chang Chih Tung replied that we had plenty of time for reform, and
that if we were in too great a hurry, we should not accomplish
anything at all. He suggested that the matter be discussed at
length before deciding upon anything definite. In his opinion it
would be foolish to go to extremes in the matter of reform. He
said that ten or fifteen years ago he would have been very much
against any reform whatsoever, but that he now saw the need for it
to a certain extent, as circumstances had changed very much. He
said that we should adhere strictly to our own mode of living and
not abandon the traditions of our ancestors. In other words, he
simply advised the adoption of western civilization where it was
an improvement on our own, and nothing more. Her Majesty was
delighted with the interview, for Chang Chih Tung's opinions
coincided exactly with her own.

During the whole of these audiences the Emperor, although present
each time, never opened his lips to say a word, but sat listening
all the time. As a rule, Her Majesty would ask his opinion, just
as a matter of form, but he invariably replied that he was quite
in accord with what Her Majesty had said or decided upon.

Of the many religious ceremonies in connection with the Buddhist
religion the "La-pachow" was the most important. This was held on
the 8th day of the twelfth moon each year. According to the common
belief, on this eighth day of the twelfth moon, many centuries
ago, a certain Buddhist priest Ju Lai set out to beg for food, and
after receiving a good supply of rice and beans from the people,
he returned and divided it with his brother priests, giving each
an equal share, and he became celebrated for his great charity.
This day was therefore set apart as an anniversary to commemorate
the event. The idea was that by practising self-denial on this
day, one would gain favor in the sight of this Buddha Ju Lai,
therefore the only food eaten was rice, grain and beans, all mixed
together in a sort of porridge, but without any salt or other
flavoring. It was not at all pleasant to eat, being absolutely
tasteless.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

THE NEW YEAR FESTIVALS

 WE now reached the time set apart for cleaning the Palace in
preparation for the New Year festivals. Everything had to be taken
down and thoroughly overhauled, and all the images, pictures,
furniture and everything else were subjected to a thorough
scrubbing. Her Majesty again consulted her book in order to choose
a lucky day on which to commence these operations, finally
choosing the twelfth day as being most favorable. As we had all
received our orders previously, we commenced early on the morning
of the twelfth. Several of the Court ladies were told off to take
down and clean the images of Buddha and prepare new curtains for
them. The rest of the cleaning was done by the eunuchs. I asked
Her Majesty whether I was to clean her jewelry, but she answered
that as nobody but herself ever wore it, it didn't need cleaning.

After everything had been cleaned to Her Majesty's satisfaction,
she prepared a list of names of the people she desired to attend
the ceremony of Tzu Sui. This ceremony was held on the last day of
each year and was something like the midnight services usually
held in Europe on the last night of each old year--just a farewell
ceremony to bid the old year adieu. The guests were invited about
a fortnight ahead, so as to give them plenty of time to get ready.
Her Majesty also ordered new winter clothing for the Court ladies.
The only difference between these new garments and those we were
then. wearing was that they were trimmed with the fur of the
silver fox instead of the gray squirrel.

The next thing was to prepare cakes, which were to be placed
before the Buddhas and ancestors, during the New Year. It was
necessary that Her Majesty should make the first one herself. So
when Her Majesty decided that it was time to prepare these cakes
the whole Court went into a room specially prepared for the
purpose and the eunuchs brought in the ingredients-ground rice,
sugar and yeast. These were mixed together into a sort of dough
and then steamed instead of baked, which caused it to rise just
like ordinary bread, it being believed that the higher the cake
rises, the better pleased are the gods and the more fortunate the
maker. The first cake turned out fine and we all congratulated Her
Majesty, who was evidently much pleased herself at the result.
Then she ordered each of the Court ladies to make one, which we
did, with disastrous results, not one turning out as it should.
This being my first year, there was some excuse for my failure,
but I was surprised that none of the older Court ladies fared any
better, and on inquiring from one of them the reason, she replied:
"Why, I did it purposely, of course, so as to flatter Her
Majesty's vanity. Certainly I could make them just as well as she,
if not better, but it would not be good policy." After we had all
finished making our cakes, the eunuchs were ordered to make the
rest, and needless to say they were perfect in every way.

The next thing was to prepare small plates of dates and fresh
fruits of every kind. These were decorated with evergreens, etc.,
and placed before the images of Buddha. Then we prepared glass
dishes of candy, which were to be offered to the God of the
Kitchen. On the twenty-third day of the last moon the God of the
Kitchen left this earth to go on a visit to the King of Heaven, to
whom he reported all that we had been doing during the past year,
returning to earth again on the last day of the year. The idea of
offering him these sweets was in order that they should stick to
his mouth and prevent him from telling too much. When these
candies were prepared, we all adjourned to the kitchen and placed
the offering on a table specially placed for the purpose. Turning
to the head cook, she said: "You had better look out now; the God
of the Kitchen will tell how much you have stolen during the past
year, and you will be punished."

The following day another ceremony had to be gone through, that of
writing out the New Year Greetings for the guests and Court, so in
the morning we all went with Her Majesty to the Audience Hall,
where the eunuchs had prepared large sheets of yellow, red and
pale green paper. Her Majesty took up a large brush and commenced
to write. On some of these sheets she wrote the character "Shou"
(Long Life) and on others "Fu" (Prosperity). By and bye, when she
began to feel tired, she would get either one of the Court ladies
or one of the official writers to finish them for her. When
finished, they were distributed to the guests and different
officials, the ones Her Majesty had written herself being reserved
for her special favorites. These were given out a few days before
the New Year.

Her Majesty received New Year presents from all the Viceroys and
principal officials. She would examine each present as it was
received, and if it found favor in her eyes, she would use it, but
if not, she would have it locked away in one of the storerooms and
probably never see it again. These presents consisted of small
pieces of furniture, curios, jewelry, silks, in fact
everything--even clothing. The present sent by Viceroy Yuan Shih
Kai was a yellow satin robe, embroidered with different colored
precious stones and pearls designed to represent the peony flower;
the leaves were of green jade. It was really a magnificent thing,
and must have cost a fortune. The only drawback was its weight; it
was too heavy to wear comfortably. Her Majesty appeared delighted
with this gown, and wore it the first day, after which it was
discarded altogether, although I often suggested that she should
wear it, as it was the most magnificent gown I ever saw. Once when
Her Majesty was granting an audience to the Diplomatic Corps, I
suggested that she should wear this dress, but she refused, giving
no reason, so nobody outside the Court has ever seen this
wonderful garment.

Another costly present was received from the Viceroy of Canton,
and consisted of four bags of pearls, each bag containing several
thousands. They were all perfect in shape and color, and would
have brought fabulous prices in Europe or America. However, Her
Majesty had so many jewels, especially pearls, that she hardly
paid any attention to them beyond remarking that they were very
nice.

The Young Empress and the Court ladies were also expected to give
presents to Her Majesty each New Year. These were for the most
part articles that we had made ourselves, such as shoes,
handkerchiefs, collars, bags, etc. My mother, my sister and myself
made presents of mirrors, perfumes, soaps and similar toilet
accessories which we had brought with us from Paris. These Her
Majesty appreciated very much; she was very vain. The eunuchs and
servant girls gave fancy cakes and other food stuffs.

The presents were so numerous that they filled several rooms, but
we were not allowed to remove them until Her Majesty gave orders
to do so.

The Court ladies also exchanged presents among themselves, which
often led to confusion and amusement. On this occasion I had
received some ten or a dozen different presents, and when it came
my turn to give something, I decided to use up some of the
presents I had received from my companions. To my surprise, the
next day I received from one of the Court ladies an embroidered
handkerchief which I immediately recognized as the identical
handkerchief I had myself sent her as my New Year's present. On
mentioning the fact, this lady turned and said: "Well, that is
rather funny; I was just wondering what had made you return the
shoes I sent you." Of course everybody laughed very heartily, and
still further merriment was caused when, on comparing all the
presents, it was found that quite half of us had received back our
own presents. In order to settle the matter, we threw them all
into a heap and divided them as evenly as possible, everybody
being satisfied with the result.

About a week before New Year's day all audiences ceased and the
seals were put away until after the holidays. During this time no
business was transacted by Her Majesty. Everything was much more
comfortable and we could see that Her Majesty also appreciated the
change from bustle to quietness. We had nothing whatever to do but
to take things easy until the last day of the year.

Early on the morning of the thirtieth Her Majesty went to worship
before the Buddhas and Ancestral Tablets. After this ceremony was
finished, the guests began to arrive, until by midday, all the
guests, numbering about fifty, were present. The principal guests
were: The Imperial Princess (Empress Dowager's adopted daughter),
Princess Chung (wife of Emperor Kwang Hsu's brother), Princesses
Shun and Tao (wives of the Emperor's younger brothers), Princess
hung (wife of the nephew of the Imperial Princess), and Prince
Ching's family. All these ladies were frequent visitors to the
Court. Next day many other Princesses, not of the Imperial family,
but whose titles were honorary titles bestowed by previous rulers,
came. Next, the daughters of the high Manchu officials and many
other people whom I had never seen before. By midday all the
guests had arrived, and, after being presented to Her Majesty,
were taken to their different apartments and told to rest a while.
At two o'clock in the afternoon everybody assembled in the
Audience Hall, lined up according to their different ranks and,
led by the Young Empress, kowtowed to Her Majesty. This was the
ceremony Tzu Sui already referred to, and was simply a last
goodbye to Her Majesty before the New Year set in. When it was all
over, Her Majesty gave each of us a small purse made of red satin
embroidered with gold, containing a sum of money. This is to
enable each one to commence the New Year with a kind of reserve
fund for a rainy day, when they would have this money to fall back
upon. It is an old Manchu custom and is still kept up.

The evening was spent in music and enjoyment, and was carried on
right through the night, none of us going to bed. At Her Majesty's
suggestion we commenced gambling with dice, Her Majesty providing
each of us with money, sometimes as much as $200. She told us to
be serious about it, and to try and win, but of course we took
good care not to win from Her Majesty. When Her Majesty began to
tire, she stopped the game and said: "Now, all this money I have
won I am going to throw on the floor, and you girls can scramble
for it." We knew that she wanted to see some fun, so we fought for
it as hard as we could.

At midnight the eunuchs brought into the room a large brass
brazier containing live charcoal. Her Majesty pulled a leaf from a
large evergreen tree, which had been placed there for the purpose,
and threw it into the fire. We each followed her example, adding
large pieces of resin, which perfumed the whole atmosphere. This
ceremony was supposed to bring good luck during the coming year.

The next item was making cakes or pies for New Year's day. On the
first of the New Year, nobody is allowed to eat rice, these cakes
taking its place. They were made of flour paste, with minced meat
inside. While some of us were preparing these cakes, others were
peeling lotus seeds for Her Majesty's breakfast.

It was now well on into the morning hours and Her Majesty said
that she was tired and would go and rest a while. She was not
going to sleep, however, so we could carry on our noise as much as
we liked. This we did for some time, and on visiting Her Majesty's
bedroom, we found that she was fast asleep. We then all repaired
to our various rooms and commenced to make ourselves tidy for the
day. As soon as Her Majesty was awake, we all proceeded to her
bedroom, taking with us plates of apples (representing "Peace"),
olives ("Long Life"), lotus seeds (Blessing). She suitably
acknowledged these gifts and wished us all good luck in return.
She inquired whether we had been to bed and, on learning that we
had been up all night, she said that was right. She herself had
not meant to sleep, only to rest a little, but somehow she had not
been able to keep awake, and gave as a reason that she was an old
woman. We waited on her until she had finished her toilet and then
wished her a Happy New Year. We then proceeded to pay our respects
to the Emperor and to the Young Empress. There was nothing further
to be done in the way of ceremonies, and we therefore all
accompanied Her Majesty to the theatre. The performance took place
on a stage erected in the courtyard, and Her Majesty closed in one
part of her veranda for the use of the guests and Court ladies.
During the performance I began to feel very drowsy, and eventually
fell fast asleep leaning against one of the pillars. I awoke
rather suddenly to find that something had been dropped into my
mouth, but on investigation I found it was nothing worse than a
piece of candy, which I immediately proceeded to eat. On
approaching Her Majesty, she asked me how I had enjoyed the candy,
and told me not to sleep, but to have a good time like the rest. I
never saw Her Majesty in better humor. She played with us just
like a young girl, and one could hardly recognize in her the
severe Empress Dowager we knew her to be.

The guests also all seemed to be enjoying themselves very much. In
the evening, after the theatrical performance was over, Her
Majesty ordered the eunuchs to bring in their instruments and give
us some music. She herself sang several songs, and we all sang at
intervals. Then Her Majesty ordered the eunuchs to sing. Some were
trained singers, and sang very nicely, but others could not sing
at all and caused quite a lot of amusement by their efforts to
please Her Majesty. The Emperor appeared to be the only one
present who was not having a good time; he never smiled once. On
meeting him outside, I asked him why he looked so sad, but he only
answered: "A Happy New Year" in English, smiled once, and walked
away.

Her Majesty rose very early next morning and proceeded to the
Audience Hall to worship the God of Wealth. We all accompanied her
and took part in the ceremony. During the next few days we did
nothing but gamble and scramble for Her Majesty's winnings. This
was all very nice in its way, until one day one of the Court
ladies began to cry, and accused me of stepping on her toes in the
scramble. This made Her Majesty angry and she ordered the offender
to go to her room and stay there for three days, saying that she
did not deserve to be enjoying herself if she could not stand a
little thing like that.

The tenth of the first moon was the birthday of the Young Empress,
and we asked Her Majesty whether we would be allowed to give
presents. She gave us permission to give whatever presents we
might wish to. However, we submitted all our presents to Her
Majesty for her approval, before giving them to the Young Empress,
and we had to be very discreet and not choose anything which Her
Majesty might think was too good. It was very difficult to tell
what to send, as Her Majesty might take a fancy to any of the
presents herself, even though they might not be of much value
intrinsically. In such a case Her Majesty would tell us that she
would keep it, and to give the Young Empress something else.

The celebration was very similar to that of the Emperor's
birthday, but not on such an elaborate scale. We presented the Ru
Yee to the Young Empress and kowtowed to her. She was supposed to
receive these tokens of respect sitting on her throne, but out of
deference to Her Majesty (we were Her Majesty's Court ladies) she
stood up. She always was very polite to us under all
circumstances.

On this day, as on the Emperor's birthday, the Emperor, Young
Empress and Secondary wife dined together. These were the only two
occasions when they did so, always dining separately at other
times. Her Majesty sent two of her Court ladies to wait upon the
Empress, I myself being one of them. I was very pleased, as I
wanted to see for myself how they conducted themselves when
together. I went into the Young Empress' room and informed her
that Her Majesty had ordered us to wait upon them, to which she
simply answered: "Very well." So we went to the dining room and
set the table, placing the chairs into position. The meal was much
different from what I expected. Instead of being stiff and serious
like Her Majesty when dining they were quite free and easy, and we
were allowed to join in the conversation and partake of some of
the food and wine. A very pretty ceremony was gone through at the
commencement of the meal. The Emperor and Young Empress seated
themselves, and the Secondary wife filled their cups with wine and
presented it to them in turn as a sign of respect, the Emperor
first. When the meal was over we returned to Her Majesty's
apartment and told her that everything had passed off nicely. We
knew very well that we had been sent simply to act as spies, but
we had nothing interesting to tell Her Majesty. She asked if the
Emperor had been very serious and we answered "Yes."

The New Year celebrations terminated with the Festival of Lanterns
on the fifteenth day of the first moon. These lanterns were of
different shapes, representing animals, flowers, fruits, etc.,
etc. They were made of white gauze, painted in different colors.
One lantern representing a dragon about fifteen feet long was
fastened to ten poles, and ten eunuchs were required to hold it in
position. In front of this dragon a eunuch was holding a lantern
representing a large pearl, which the dragon was supposed to
devour. This ceremony was gone through to the accompaniment of
music.

After the lanterns came a firework display. These fireworks
represented different scenes in the history of China, grape vines,
wisteria blossoms, and many other flowers. It was a very imposing
sight. Portable wooden houses had been placed near the fireworks
from which Her Majesty and the rest of the Court could see them
without being out in the cold air. This display lasted for several
hours without a stop, and thousands of firecrackers were set off
during the time. Her Majesty seemed to enjoy the noise very much.
Altogether it was a good finish to the celebrations and we all
enjoyed it very much.

The next morning all the guests departed from the Palace and we
re-commenced our everyday life.

As usual after the guests had departed Her Majesty began to
criticise their mode of dressing, their ignorance of Court
etiquette, etc., but added that she was rather glad, as she didn't
want them to know anything about Court life.

As Spring soon arrived it was time for the farmers to commence
sowing seed for the rice crop, and of course there was another
ceremony. The Emperor visited the Temple of Agriculture where he
prayed for a good harvest. Then he proceeded to a small plot of
ground situated in the temple and after turning the earth over
with a hand plow he sowed the first seeds of the season. This was
to show the farmers that their labors were not despised and that
even the Emperor was not ashamed to engage in this work. Anybody
could attend this ceremony, it being quite a public affair, and
many farmers were present.

About this same time the Young Empress went to see the silkworms
and watch for the eggs to be hatched. As soon as they were out,
the Young Empress gathered mulberry leaves for the worms to feed
upon and watched them until they were big enough to commence
spinning. Each day a fresh supply of leaves were gathered and they
were fed four or five times daily. Several of the Court ladies
were told off to feed the worms during the night and see that they
did not escape. These silkworms grow very rapidly and we could see
the difference each day. Of course when they became full grown
they required more food and we were kept busy constantly feeding
them. The Young Empress was able to tell by holding them up to the
light when they were ready to spin. If they were transparent then
they were ready, and were placed on paper and left there. When
spinning the silkworm does not eat, therefore all we had to do was
to watch that they did not get away. After spinning for four or
five days their supply of silk becomes exhausted and they shrivel
up and apparently die. These apparently dead worms were collected
by the Young Empress and placed in a box where they were kept
until they developed into moths. They were then placed on thick
paper and left there to lay their eggs.

If left to themselves, the silkworms when ready for spinning will
spin the silk around their bodies until they are completely
covered up, gradually forming a cocoon. In order to determine when
they have finished spinning it was customary to take the cocoon
and rattle it near the ear. If the worm was exhausted you could
plainly hear the body rattle inside the cocoon. The cocoon is then
placed in boiling water until it becomes soft. This, of course,
kills the worm. In order to separate the silk a needle is used to
pick up the end of the thread which is then wound on to a spool
and is ready for weaving. A few of the cocoons were kept until the
worms had turned into moths, which soon ate their way out of the
cocoons when they were placed on sheets of paper and left to lay
their eggs, which are taken away and kept in a cool place until
the following Spring, when the eggs are hatched and become worms.

When the silk had all been separated we took it to Her Majesty for
inspection and approval. On this particular occasion Her Majesty
ordered one of the eunuchs to bring in some silk which she herself
had woven when a young girl in the Palace, and on comparing it
with the new silk it was found to be just as good in every way
although many years had passed since it was made.

All this was done with the same object as the Emperor sowing the
seeds, viz.:--to set the people a good example and to encourage
them in their work.



CHAPTER NINETEEN

THE SEA PALACE

 THIS year we had a very hot spring and Her Majesty was desirous
of getting back again to the Sea Palace. However, as war had
already been declared between Russia and Japan it was thought best
to remain in the Forbidden City until things were more settled.
Her Majesty was very much worried over this war and spent most of
her time in offering prayers to the different divinities for the
welfare of China and we, of course, were expected to join her.
Things were very monotonous about this time and nothing particular
occurred until the beginning of the second moon. By this time Her
Majesty was quite sick of staying in the Forbidden City and said
that no matter what happened she would remove the Court to the Sea
Palace, where Miss Carl could get along and finish the portrait
which had been hanging on for nearly a year. So on the sixth day
of the second moon we moved back to the Sea Palace. Everything
looked fresh and green and many of the trees had commenced to
blossom. Her Majesty took us around the lake and we were in such
good spirits that Her Majesty remarked that we acted more like a
lot of wild animals escaped from a menagerie than human beings.
She was much brighter now, but said that she would be happier
still to get to the Summer Palace.

Miss Carl was summoned to the Palace, and Her Majesty visited her
and asked to see the portrait. She again asked me how long it
would be before it was finished, and I told her that unless she
gave a little more of her time to posing it might not be finished
for quite a long time. After a lot of consideration Her Majesty
finally agreed to give Miss Carl five minutes each day after the
morning audience, but that she desired it to be distinctly
understood that she did not intend to pose for anything but the
face. She accordingly sat for two mornings, but on the third
morning she made an excuse saying that she was not feeling well. I
told her that Miss Carl could not proceed further unless she sat
for the face, so, although she was very angry, she gave Miss Carl
a few more sittings until the face was finished. She absolutely
refused to sit again whether it was finished or not, saying that
she would have nothing more to do with the portrait. I myself sat
for the remainder of the portrait, viz.:--for Her Majesty's dress,
jewels, etc., and so by degrees the portrait was completed.

When Her Majesty learned that the portrait was nearing completion
she was very much pleased, and I thought it a good opportunity to
again broach the subject of payment. Her Majesty asked me whether
I really thought it necessary to pay cash for the portrait and how
much. I told her that as painting was Miss Carl's profession, if
she had not been engaged on painting Her Majesty's portrait she
would most probably have been engaged on other similar work for
which she would have received compensation, and that therefore she
would naturally expect to be paid even more handsomely in this
instance. It was difficult to make Her Majesty understand this and
she asked if I was quite certain that Miss Carl would not be
offended by an offer of money, also Mrs. Conger who had presented
her. I explained that in America and Europe it was quite customary
for ladies to earn their own living either by painting, teaching
or in some other similar manner, and that it was no disgrace but
rather the opposite. Her Majesty seemed very much surprised to
learn this, and asked why Miss Carl's brother did not support her
himself. I told Her Majesty that Miss Carl did not desire him to
provide for her, besides which he was married and had a family to
support. Her Majesty gave it as her opinion that this was a funny
kind of civilization. In China when the parents were dead it was
the duty of the sons to provide for their unmarried sisters until
such time as they married. She also said that if Chinese ladies
were to work for their living it would only set people talking
about them. However, she promised to speak with Her Ministers
about paying Miss Carl, and I felt somewhat relieved as there
seemed to be a probability of something satisfactory being
arranged after all.

The twelfth day of the second moon was the anniversary of another
interesting ceremony, viz.:--the birthday of the flowers and
trees. After the morning audience we all went into the Palace
grounds, where the eunuchs were waiting with huge rolls of red
silk. These we all commenced to cut into narrow strips about two
inches wide and three feet long. When we had cut sufficient Her
Majesty took a strip of red silk and another of yellow silk which
she tied round the stem of one of the peony trees (in China the
peony is considered to be the queen of flowers). Then all the
Court ladies, eunuchs and servant girls set to work to decorate
every single tree and plant in the grounds with red silk ribbons,
in the same manner as Her Majesty had done. This took up nearly
the entire morning and it made a very pretty picture, with the
bright costumes of the Court ladies, green trees and beautiful
flowers.

We then went to a theatrical performance. This represented all the
tree fairies and flower fairies celebrating their birthday. The
Chinese believe that all the trees and flowers have their own
particular fairies, the tree fairies being men and the flower
fairies being women. The costumes were very pretty and were chosen
to blend with the green trees and flowers which were on the stage.
One of the costumes worn by a lotus fairy was made of pink silk,
worked so as to represent the petals of the flower, the skirt
being of green silk to represent the lotus leaves. Whenever this
fairy moved about the petals would move just as though wafted by
the breeze, like a natural flower. Several other costumes
representing different flowers were made in the same manner. The
scene was a woodland dell, surrounded with huge rocks perforated
with caves, out of which came innumerable small fairies bearing
decanters of wine. These small fairies represented the smaller
flowers, daisies, pomegranate blossoms, etc. The result can be
better imagined than described. All the fairies gathered together
and drank the wine, after which they commenced to sing,
accompanied by stringed instruments, played very softly. The final
scene was a very fitting ending to the performance. It represented
a small rainbow which gradually descended until it rested on the
rocks; then each fairy in turn would sit upon the rainbow which
rose again and conveyed them through the clouds into Heaven. This
completed the celebration and we all retired to our rooms.

On the fourteenth day of the second moon (March 2, 1904), I
completed my first year at Court. I had quite forgotten this fact
until Her Majesty reminded me of it. She asked whether I was
comfortable and happy where I was or did I long to return to
Paris. I answered truly that although I had enjoyed myself while
in France still I preferred the life of the Court, it was so
interesting, besides which I was in my own native land and among
all my friends and relations, and naturally I preferred that to
living in a strange land. Her Majesty smiled and said she was
afraid that sooner or later I would tire of the life in the Palace
and fly away again across the ocean. She said that the only way to
make sure of me was to marry me off. She again asked me what was
my objection to getting married; was I afraid of having a
mother-in-law, or what was it? If that was all, I need not worry,
for so long as she was alive there was nothing to be afraid of.
Her Majesty said that even if I were married it would not be
necessary for me to stay at home all the time, but that I would be
able to spend my time in the Palace as usual. Continuing, she
said: "Last year when this marriage question came up I was willing
to make allowances as you had been brought up somewhat differently
from the rest of my Court ladies, but do not run away with the
idea that I have forgotten all about it. I am still on the lookout
for a suitable husband for you." I simply answered as before--that
I had absolutely no desire to marry, but that I wanted to stay
where I was and live at the Court so long as Her Majesty was
willing to have me there. She made some remark about my being
stubborn and said that I should probably change my mind before
long.

During the latter part of the second moon Miss Carl worked very
hard to get the portrait finished and Her Majesty again consulted
her book in order to select a lucky day on which to put the final
touches to the picture. The 19th of April, 1904, was chosen by Her
Majesty as the best time, and Miss Carl was duly notified. Miss
Carl most emphatically stated that it was quite impossible to
finish the portrait properly by the time named, and I told Her
Majesty what Miss Carl said, explaining that there were many small
finishing touches to be added and I suggested it would be better
to give Miss Carl a few days longer if possible. However, Her
Majesty said that it must be finished by four o'clock on the 19th
day of April, and therefore there was nothing further to be said.

About a week before the time fixed for completion Her Majesty paid
a visit to the studio to finally inspect the picture. She seemed
very much pleased with it, but still objected to her face being
painted dark on one side and light on the other. As I have said
before, I had explained that this was the shading, but Her Majesty
insisted on my telling Miss Carl to make both sides of her face
alike. This led to a pretty hot discussion between Miss Carl and
myself but she finally saw that it was no use going against Her
Majesty's wishes in the matter, so consented to make some slight
alteration. Happening to catch sight of some foreign characters at
the foot of the painting Her Majesty inquired what they were and
on being informed that they were simply the artist's name, said:
"Well, I know foreigners do some funny things, but I think this
about the funniest I ever heard of. Fancy putting her own name on
my picture. This will naturally convey the impression that it is a
portrait of Miss Carl, and not a portrait of myself at all." I
again had to explain the reason for this, saying that it was
always customary for foreign artists to write their names at the
foot of any picture they painted, whether portrait or otherwise.
So Her Majesty said she supposed it was all right, and would have
to remain, but she looked anything but satisfied with it.

By working practically all night and all day, Miss Carl managed to
get the portrait finished by the time stipulated, and Her Majesty
arranged that Mrs. Conger and the other ladies of the Diplomatic
Corps should come to the Palace and see the portrait. This was
quite a private audience and Her Majesty received them in one of
the small Audience Halls. After the usual greetings Her Majesty
ordered us to conduct the ladies to the studio, which we did, Her
Majesty bidding them good-bye and remaining in her own apartments.
The Young Empress in accordance with instructions from Her
Majesty, accompanied us to the studio, and acted as hostess.
Everybody expressed great admiration for the portrait and it was
voted a marvellous likeness. After inspecting the picture we all
adjourned for refreshments. The Young Empress sat at the head of
the table and asked me to sit next to her. Shortly after everybody
was seated a eunuch came and asked the Young Empress to inform
these ladies that the Emperor was slightly indisposed and was
unable to be present. I interpreted this, and everybody appeared
satisfied. As a matter of fact the Emperor was quite well, but we
had forgotten all about him. And so the guests departed without
seeing him on this occasion.

On reporting everything to Her Majesty as usual, she asked what
they thought of the portrait, and we told her that they had
admired it very much. Her Majesty said: "Of course they did, it
was painted by a foreign artist." She didn't appear to be very
much interested and was quite cross about something, which caused
me great disappointment after all the trouble Miss Carl had taken
to finish the portrait. Her Majesty then remarked that Miss Carl
had taken a long time to get the portrait finished, and asked why
nobody had reminded her to inform the Emperor about the audience,
being particularly angry with the head eunuch on this occasion.
Her Majesty said that as soon as she remembered, she immediately
sent a eunuch to make excuses, as the ladies might very well think
that something had happened to the Emperor and it might cause
talk. I told her that I explained to them that the Emperor was not
well and they evidently thought nothing further of his absence.

By the next day the carpenters in the Palace had finished the
frame for the portrait and when it had been properly fitted Her
Majesty ordered my brother to take a photograph of it. This
photograph turned out so well that Her Majesty said it was better
than the portrait itself.

The picture being now quite finished, Miss Carl prepared to take
her leave, which she did a few days later, having received a
handsome present in cash from Her Majesty in addition to a
decoration and many other presents as remuneration for her
services. For quite a long time after Miss Carl had left the
Palace I felt very lonely, as during her stay I had found her a
genial companion and we had many things in common to talk about.
Her Majesty noticed that I was rather quiet, and asked me the
cause. She said: "I suppose you are beginning to miss your friend,
the lady artist." I did not care to admit that this was so, for
fear she might think me ungrateful to herself, besides which I
knew she did not like the idea of my being too friendly with
foreigners. So I explained to Her Majesty that I always did regret
losing old friends but that I would get used to the change very
soon. Her Majesty was very nice about it and said she wished that
she was a little more sentimental over such small things, but that
when I got to her age I should be able to take things more
philosophically.

After Miss Carl had left the Court, Her Majesty asked me one day:
"Did she ever ask you much about the Boxer movement of 1900?" I
told her that I knew very little of the Boxer movement myself, as
I was in Paris at the time and I could not say very much. I
assured her that the lady artist never mentioned the subject to
me. Her Majesty said: "I hate to mention about that affair and I
would not like to have foreigners ask my people questions on that
subject. Do you know, I have often thought that I am the most
clever woman that ever lived and others cannot compare with me.
Although I have heard much about Queen Victoria and read a part of
her life which someone has translated into Chinese, still I don't
think her life was half so interesting and eventful as mine. My
life is not finished yet and no one knows what is going to happen
in the future. I may surprise the foreigners some day with
something extraordinary and do something quite contrary to
anything I have yet done. England is one of great powers of the
world, but this has not been brought about by Queen Victoria's
absolute rule. She had the able men of parliament back of her at
all times and of course they discussed everything until the best
result was obtained, then she would sign the necessary documents
and really had nothing to say about the policy of the country. Now
look at me. I have 400,000,000 people, all dependent on my
judgment. Although I have the Grand Council to consult with, they
only look after the different appointments, but anything of an
important nature I must decide myself. What does the Emperor know?
I have been very successful so far, but I never dreamt that the
Boxer movement would end with such serious results for China. That
is the only mistake I have made in my life. I should have issued
an Edict at once to stop the Boxers practising their belief, but
both Prince Tuan and Duke Lan told me that they firmly believed
the Boxers were sent by Heaven to enable China to get rid of all
the undesirable and hated foreigners. Of course they meant mostly
missionaries, and you know how I hate them and how very religious
I always am, so I thought I would not say anything then but would
wait and see what would happen. I felt sure they were going too
far as one day Prince Tuan brought the Boxer leader to the Summer
Palace and summoned all the eunuchs into the courtyard of the
Audience Hall and examined each eunuch on the head to see if there
was a cross. He said, `This cross is not visible to you, but I can
identify a Christian by finding a cross on the head.' Prince Tuan
then came to my private Palace and told me that the Boxer leader
was at the Palace Gate and had found two eunuchs who were
Christians and asked me what was to be done. I immediately became
very angry and told him that he had no right to bring any Boxers
to the Palace without my permission; but he said this leader was
so powerful that he was able to kill all the foreigners and was
not afraid of the foreign guns, as all the gods were protecting
him. Prince Tuan told me that he had witnessed this himself. A
Boxer shot another with a revolver and the bullet hit him, but did
not harm him in the least. Then Prince Tuan suggested that I hand
these two eunuchs supposed to be Christians to the Boxer leader,
which I did. I heard afterwards that these two eunuchs were
beheaded right in the country somewhere near here. This chief
Boxer came to the Palace the next day, accompanied by Prince Tuan
and Duke Lan, to make all the eunuchs burn incense sticks to prove
that they were not Christians. After that Prince Tuan also
suggested that we had better let the chief Boxer come every day
and teach the eunuchs their belief; that nearly all of Peking was
studying with the Boxers. The next day I was very much surprised
to see all my eunuchs dressed as Boxers. They wore red jackets,
red turbans and yellow trousers. I was sorry to see all my
attendants discard their official robes and wear a funny costume
like that. Duke Lan presented me with a suit of Boxer clothes. At
that time Yung Lu, who was the head of the Grand Council, was ill
and asked leave of absence for a month. While he was sick, I used
to send one of the eunuchs to see him every day, and that day the
eunuch returned and informed me that Yung Lu was quite well and
would come to the Palace the next day, although he still had
fifteen days more leave. I was puzzled to know why he should give
up the balance of his leave. However, I was very anxious to see
him, as I wished to consult him about this chief Boxer. Yung Lu
looked grieved when he learned what had taken place at the Palace,
and said that these Boxers were nothing but revolutionaries and
agitators. They were trying to get the people to help them to kill
the foreigners, but he was very much afraid the result would be
against the Government. I told him that probably he was right, and
asked him what should be done. He told me that he would talk to
Prince Tuan, but the next day Prince Tuan told me that he had had
a fight with Yung Lu about the Boxer question, and said that all
of Peking had become Boxers, and if we tried to turn them, they
would do all they could to kill everyone in Peking, including the
Court; that they (the Boxer party) had the day selected to kill
all the foreign representatives; that Tung Fou Hsiang, a very
conservative General and one of the Boxers, had promised to bring
his troops out to help the Boxers to fire on the Legations. When I
heard this I was very much worried and anticipated serious
trouble, so I sent for Yung Lu at once and kept Prince Tuan with
me. Yung Lu came, looking very much worried, and he was more so
after I had told him what the Boxers were going to do. He
immediately suggested that I should issue an Edict, saying that
these Boxers were a secret society and that no one should believe
their teaching, and to instruct the Generals of the nine gates to
drive all the Boxers out of the city at once. When Prince Tuan
heard this he was very angry and told Yung Lu that if such an
Edict was issued, the Boxers would come to the Court and kill
everybody. When Prince Tuan told me this, I thought I had better
leave everything to him. After he left the Palace, Yung Lu said
that Prince Tuan was absolutely crazy and that he was sure these
Boxers would be the cause of a great deal of trouble. Yung Lu also
said that Prince Tuan must be insane to be helping the Boxers to
destroy the Legations; that these Boxers were a very common lot,
without education, and they imagined the few foreigners in China
were the only ones on the earth and if they were killed it would
be the end of them. They forgot how very strong these foreign
countries are, and that if the foreigners in China were all
killed, thousands would come to avenge their death. Yung Lu
assured me that one foreign soldier could kill one hundred Boxers
without the slightest trouble, and begged me to give him
instructions to order General Nieh, who was afterwards killed by
the Boxers, to bring his troops to protect the Legations. Of
course I gave him this instruction at once, and also told him that
he must see Prince Tuan at once and Duke Lan to tell them that
this was a very serious affair and that they had better not
interfere with Yung Lu's plans. Matters became worse day by day
and Yung Lu was the only one against the Boxers, but what could
one man accomplish against so many? One day Prince Tuan and Duke
Lan came and asked me to issue an Edict ordering the Boxers to
kill all the Legation people first and then all remaining
foreigners. I was very angry and refused to issue this Edict.
After we had talked a very long time, Prince Tuan said that this
must be done without delay, for the Boxers were getting ready to
fire on the Legations and would do so the very next day. I was
furious and ordered several of the eunuchs to drive him out, and
he said as he was going out: `If you refuse to issue that Edict, I
will do it for you whether you are willing or not,' and he did.
After that you know what happened. He issued these Edicts unknown
to me and was responsible for a great many deaths. He found that
he could not carry his plans through and heard that the foreign
troops were not very far from Peking. He was so frightened that he
made us all leave Peking." As she finished saying this, she
started to cry, and I told her that I felt very sorry for her. She
said: "You need not feel sorry for me for what I have gone
through; but you must feel sorry that my fair name is ruined. That
is the only mistake I have made in my whole life and it was done
in a moment of weakness. Before I was just like a piece of pure
jade; everyone admired me for what I have done for my country, but
the jade has a flaw in it since this Boxer movement and it will
remain there to the end of my life. I have regretted many, many
times that I had such confidence in, and believed that wicked
Prince Tuan; he was responsible for everything."

By the end of the third moon Her Majesty had had enough of the Sea
Palace and the Court moved into the Summer Palace. This time we
travelled by boat as it was very beautiful weather. On reaching
the water-gates of the Palace we found everything just lovely and
the peach blossoms were in full bloom. Her Majesty plainly showed
how glad she was to be back once more and for the time being
seemed to have forgotten everything else, even the war.



CHAPTER TWENTY

CONCLUSION

 MY second year at the Palace was very much the same as the first.
We celebrated each anniversary and festival in the same way as
before: the usual audience was held each morning by Her Majesty,
after which the day was given up to enjoyment. Amongst other
things Her Majesty took great interest in her vegetable gardens,
and superintended the planting of the different seeds. When
vegetables were ready for pulling, from time to time, all the
Court ladies were supplied with a kind of small pruning fork and
gathered in the crop. Her Majesty seemed to enjoy seeing us work
in the fields, and when the fit seized her she would come along
and help. In order to encourage us in this work, Her Majesty would
give a small present to the one who showed the best results so we
naturally did our best in order to please her, as much as for the
reward. Another hobby of Her Majesty's was the rearing of
chickens, and a certain number of birds were allotted to each of
the Court ladies. We were supposed to look after these ourselves
and the eggs had to be taken to Her Majesty every morning. I could
not understand why it was that my chickens gave less eggs than any
of the others until one day my eunuch informed me that he had seen
one of the other eunuchs stealing the eggs from my hen house and
transferring them to another, in order to help his mistress to
head the list.

Her Majesty was very particular not to encourage untidyness or
extravagance among the Court ladies. On one occasion she told me
to open a parcel which was lying in her room. I was about to cut
the string when Her Majesty stopped me and told me to untie it.
This I managed to do after a lot of trouble, and opened the
parcel. Her Majesty next made me fold the paper neatly and place
it in a drawer along with the string so that I would know where to
find it should it be wanted again. From time to time Her Majesty
would give each of us money for our own private use and whenever
we wanted to buy anything, say flowers, handkerchiefs, shoes,
ribbons, etc., these could be bought from the servant girls who
used to make them in the Palace and we would enter each item in a
small note book supplied by Her Majesty for the purpose. At the
end of each month Her Majesty examined our accounts and in case
she considered that we had been extravagant she would give us a
good scolding, while on the other hand, if we managed to show a
good balance she would compliment us on our good management. Thus
under Her Majesty's tuition we learned to be careful and tidy
against such time as we might be called upon to look after homes
of our own.

About this time my father began to show signs of breaking down and
asked for permission to withdraw from public life. However, Her
Majesty would not hear of this and decided to give him another six
months vacation instead. It was his intention to go to Shanghai
and see the family physician, but Her Majesty did not approve of
this, maintaining that her own doctors were quite as good as any
foreign doctor. These doctors therefore attended him for some
time, prescribing all kinds of different concoctions daily. After
a while he seemed to pick up a little but was still unable to get
about on account of having chronic rheumatism. We therefore again
suggested that it would be better for him to see his own doctor in
Shanghai, who understood my father thoroughly, but Her Majesty
could not be made to see it in that light. She said that what we
wanted was a little patience, that the Chinese doctors might be
slow, but they were sure, and she was convinced they would
completely cure my father very soon. The fact of the matter was
she was afraid that if my father went to stay in Shanghai the rest
of the family would want to be there with him, which was not in
her programme at all. So we decided to remain in Peking unless my
father showed signs of getting worse.

In due course the time arrived on which it had been arranged to
hold the Spring Garden Party for the Diplomatic Corps, and as
usual one day was set apart for the Ministers, Secretaries and
members of the various Legations, and the following day for their
wives, etc. This year very few guests attended the Garden Party
but among those who did come were several strangers. About half a
dozen ladies from the Japanese Legation came with Madame Uchida,
wife of the Japanese Minister. Her Majesty was always very pleased
to see this lady whom she very much admired on account of her
extreme politeness. After the usual presentation we conducted the
ladies to luncheon, showed them over the Palace grounds, after
which we wished them good-bye and they took their leave. We
reported everything to Her Majesty, and as usual were asked many
questions. Among the guests there was one lady (English so far as
I could make out) dressed in a heavy tweed travelling costume,
having enormous pockets, into which she thrust her hands as though
it were extremely cold. She wore a cap of the same material. Her
Majesty asked if I had noticed this lady with the clothes made out
of "rice bags," and wasn't it rather unusual to be presented at
Court in such a dress. Her Majesty wanted to know who she was and
where she came from. I replied that she certainly did not belong
to any of the Legations as I was acquainted with everybody there.
Her Majesty said that whoever she was she certainly was not
accustomed to moving in decent society as she (Her Majesty) was
quite certain that it was not the thing to appear at a European
Court in such a costume. "I can tell in a moment," Her Majesty
added, "whether any of these people are desirous of showing proper
respect to me, or whether they consider that I am not entitled to
it. These foreigners seem to have the idea that the Chinese are
ignorant and that therefore they need not be so particular as in
European Society. I think it would be best to let it be understood
for the future what dress should be worn at the different Court
Functions, and at the same time use a certain amount of discretion
in issuing invitations. In that way I can also keep the missionary
element out, as well as other undesirables. I like to meet any
distinguished foreigners who may be visiting in China, but I do
not want any common people at my Court." I suggested that the
Japanese custom could be followed, viz.: to  issue proper
invitation cards, stipulating at the foot the dress to be worn on
each particular occasion. Her Majesty thought this would meet the
case and it was decided to introduce a similar rule in China.

Whenever the weather permitted, Her Majesty would pass quite a lot
of her time in the open air watching the eunuchs at work in the
gardens. During the early Spring the lotus plants were
transplanted and she would take keen interest in this work. All
the old roots had to be cut away and the new bulbs planted in
fresh soil. Although the lotus grew in the shallowest part of the
lake (the West side) it was necessary for the eunuchs to wade into
the water sometimes up to their waists in order to weed out the
old plants and set the young ones. Her Majesty would sit for hours
on her favorite bridge (The Jade Girdle Bridge) and superintend
the eunuchs at their work, suggesting from time to time as to how
the bulbs were to be planted. This work generally took three or
four days, and the Court ladies in attendance would stand beside
Her Majesty and pass the time making fancy tassels for Her
Majesty's cushions, in fact doing anything so long as we did not
idle.

It was during the Spring that Yuan Shih Kai paid another visit to
the Palace, and among other subjects discussed was the Russo-Japan
war. He told Her Majesty that it was developing into a very
serious affair and that he feared China would be the principal
sufferer in the long run. Her Majesty was very much upset by this
news, and mentioned that she had been advised by one of the
censors to make a present to the Japanese of a large quantity of
rice, but had decided to take no action whatever in the matter,
which resolve Yuan Shih Kai strongly supported.

I was still working each day translating the various newspaper
reports and telegrams relating to the war and one morning, seeing
a paragraph to the effect that Kang Yu Wei (Leader of the Reform
Movement in China in 1898) had arrived at Singapore from Batavia,
I thought it might interest Her Majesty and so translated it along
with the rest. Her Majesty immediately became very much excited
which made me feel frightened as I did not know what could be the
matter. However, she explained to me that this man had caused all
kinds of trouble in China, that before meeting Kang Yu Wei the
Emperor had been a zealous adherent to the traditions of his
ancestors but since then had plainly shown his desire to introduce
reforms and even Christianity into the country. "On one occasion,"
continued Her Majesty, "he caused the Emperor to issue
instructions for the Summer Palace to be surrounded by soldiers so
as to keep me prisoner until these reforms could be put into
effect, but through the faithfulness of Yung Lu, a member of the
Grand Council, and Yuan Shill Kai, Viceroy of Chihli, I was able
to frustrate the plot. I immediately proceeded to the Forbidden
City, where the Emperor was then staying and after discussing the
question with him he replied that he realized his mistake and
asked me to take over the reins of government and act in his
stead."

(The result of this was, of course, the Edict of 1898 appointing
the Empress Dowager as Regent of China.)

Her Majesty had immediately ordered the capture of Kang Yu Wei and
his followers, but he had managed to effect his escape and she had
heard nothing further about him until I translated this report in
the newspaper. She seemed relieved, however, to know where he was,
and seemed anxious to hear what he was doing. She suddenly became
very angry again and asked why it was that the foreign governments
offered protection to Chinese political agitators and criminals.
Why couldn't they leave China to deal with her own subjects and
mind their own business a little more? She gave me instructions to
keep a lookout for any further news of this gentleman and report
to her immediately, but I made up my mind that in any case, I
would not mention anything about him again and so the matter
gradually died away.

During one of our visits to the Sea Palace Her Majesty drew
attention to a large piece of vacant ground and said that it had
formerly been the site of the Audience Hall which had been
destroyed by fire during the Boxer trouble. Her Majesty explained
that this had been purely an accident and was not deliberately
destroyed by the foreign troops. She said that it had long been an
eyesore to her as it was so ugly, and that she had now determined
to build another Audience Hall on the same site, as the present
Audience Hall was too small to accommodate the foreign guests when
they paid their respects at New Year. She therefore commanded the
Board of Works to prepare a model of the new building in
accordance with her own ideas, and submit it for her approval. Up
to that time all the buildings in the Palace Grounds were
typically Chinese but this new Audience Hall was to be more or
less on the foreign plan and up to date in every respect. This
model was accordingly prepared and submitted to Her Majesty. It
was only a small wooden model but was complete in every detail,
even to the pattern of the windows and the carving on the ceilings
and panels. However, I never knew anything to quite come up to Her
Majesty's ideas, and this was no exception. She criticised the
model from every standpoint, ordering this room to be enlarged and
that room to be made smaller: this window to be moved to another
place, etc., etc. So the model went back for reconstruction. When
it was again brought for Her Majesty's inspection everybody agreed
that it was an improvement on the first one, and even Her Majesty
expressed great satisfaction. The next thing was to find a name
for the new building and after serious and mature consideration it
was decided to name it Hai Yen Tang (Sea Coast Audience Hall).
Building operations were commenced immediately and Her Majesty
took great interest in the progress of the work. It had already
been decided that this Audience Hall was to be furnished
throughout in foreign style, with the exception of the throne,
which, of course, retained its Manchu appearance. Her Majesty
compared the different styles of furniture with the catalogues we
had brought with us from France and finally decided on the Louis
Fifteenth style, but everything was to be covered with Imperial
Yellow, with curtains and carpets to match. When everything had
been selected to Her Majesty's satisfaction, my mother asked
permission to defray the expense herself and make a present of
this furniture. This Her Majesty agreed to and the order was
accordingly placed with a well-known Paris firm from whom we had
purchased furniture when in France. By the time the building was
completed the furniture had arrived, and it was quickly installed.
Her Majesty went to inspect it and, of course, had to find fault
as usual. She didn't seem at all pleased with the result of the
experiment and said that after all a Chinese building would have
been the best as it would have had a more dignified appearance.
However, the thing was finished and it was no use finding fault
now, as it could not be changed.

During the Summer months I had plenty of leisure time and devoted
about an hour each day to helping the Emperor with his English. He
was a most intelligent man with a wonderful memory and learned
very quickly. His pronunciation, however, was not good. In a very
short time he was able to read short stories out of an ordinary
school reader and could write from dictation fairly well. His
handwriting was exceptionally fine, while in copying old English
and ornamental characters, he was an expert. Her Majesty seemed
pleased that the Emperor had taken up this study, and said she
thought of taking it up herself as she was quite sure she would
learn it very quickly if she tried. After two lessons she lost
patience, and did not mention the matter again.

Of course these lessons gave me plenty of opportunity to talk with
His Majesty, and on one occasion he ventured the remark that I
didn't seem to have made much progress with Her Majesty in the
matter of reform. I told him that many things had been
accomplished since my arrival at Court, and mentioned the new
Audience Hall as an instance. He didn't appear to think that
anything worth talking about, and advised me to give up the matter
altogether. He said when the proper time arrived--if it ever did
arrive--then I might be of use, but expressed grave doubts on the
subject. He also enquired about my father and I told him that
unless his health improved very soon it would be necessary for us
to leave the Court for a while at any rate. He replied that
although he should very much regret such a necessity, he really
believed that it would be for the best. He said he felt certain
that I should never be able to settle down permanently to Court
life after spending so many years abroad, and for his part would
put no obstacles in the way of my leaving the Court if I desired
to do so.

Her Majesty had given me permission to visit my father twice every
month, and everything appeared to be going along nicely until one
day one of Her Majesty's servant girls told me that Her Majesty
was trying to arrange another marriage for me. At first I did not
take any notice of this, but shortly afterwards Her Majesty
informed me that everything was arranged and that I was to be
married to a certain Prince whom she had chosen. I could see that
Her Majesty was waiting for me to say something, so I told her
that I was very much worried at that time about my father and
begged her to allow the matter to stand over for the time being at
any rate. This made Her Majesty very angry, and she told me that
she considered me very ungrateful after all she had done for me. I
didn't reply, and as her Majesty did not say anything more at the
time, I tried to forget about it. However, on my next visit home,
I told my father all about it, and as before he was strongly
opposed to such a marriage. He suggested that on my return to the
Palace I should lay the whole matter before Li Lien Ying, the head
eunuch, and explain my position, for if anybody could influence
Her Majesty, he was the one. I, therefore, took the first
opportunity of speaking to him. At first he appeared very
reluctant to interfere in the matter, and said he thought I ought
to do as Her Majesty wished, but on my stating that I had no
desire to marry at all, but was quite willing to remain at Court
in my present position, he promised to do his best for me. I never
heard anything further about my marriage, either from Her Majesty
or Li Lien Ying, and therefore concluded that he had been able to
arrange the matter satisfactorily.

The Summer passed without anything further important occurring.
During the eighth moon the bamboos were cut down and here again
the Court ladies were called upon to assist, our work being to
carve designs and characters on the cut trees, Her Majesty
assisting. These were afterwards made into chairs, tables and
other useful articles for Her Majesty's teahouse. During the long
Autumn evenings Her Majesty would teach us Chinese history and
poetry and every tenth day would put us through an examination in
order to find out how much we had learned, prizes being awarded
for proficiency. The younger eunuchs also took part in these
lessons and some of their answers to Her Majesty's questions were
very amusing. If Her Majesty were in a good humor she would laugh
with the rest of us, but sometimes she would order them to be
punished for their ignorance and stupidity. However, as they were
quite accustomed to being punished they did not seem to mind very
much and forgot all about it the next minute.

As Her Majesty's seventieth birthday was approaching the Emperor
proposed to celebrate this event on an unusually grand scale, but
Her Majesty would not give her consent to this proposal on account
of the war trouble, for fear people might comment on it. The only
difference, therefore, between this birthday and former ones was
that Her Majesty gave presents to the Court, in addition to
receiving them. These included the bestowal of titles, promotions
and increases in salary. Among the titles conferred by Her
Majesty, my sister and myself received the title of Chun Chu Hsien
(Princess). These titles, however, were confined to members of the
Court, and were granted specially by the Empress Dowager. Similar
promotions to outside officials were always conferred by the
Emperor. It was proposed to hold the celebrations in the Forbidden
City as it was more suited for such an important event. However,
Her Majesty did not like this idea at all, and gave instructions
that the Court should not be moved until three days before the
10th of the tenth moon, the date of her birthday. This entailed a
lot of unnecessary work as it necessitated decorating both the
Summer Palace and the Forbidden City. Everything was hurry and
bustle. To add to this, it snowed very heavily during the few days
previous to the tenth. Her Majesty was in a very good mood. She
was very fond of being out in the snow and expressed a wish to
have some photographs taken of herself on the hillside. So my
brother was commanded to bring his camera, and took several very
good pictures of Her Majesty.

On the seventh day the Court moved into the Forbidden City and the
celebrations commenced. The decorations were beautiful; the
Courtyards being covered with glass roofs to keep out the snow.
The theatres were in full swing each day. The actual ceremony,
which took place on the tenth, did not differ in any respect from
previous ones. Everything passed off smoothly, and the Court
removed again into the Sea Palace.

While at the Sea Palace we received news that my father's
condition was becoming serious, and he again tendered his
resignation to Her Majesty. She sent her eunuchs to find out
exactly what the matter was, and on learning that he was really
very ill, accepted his resignation. Her Majesty agreed that it
might be better for him to go to Shanghai and see if the foreign
physicians could do him any good. She said she supposed it would
be necessary for my mother to accompany him to Shanghai, but did
not consider it serious enough to send my sister and myself along
also. I tried to explain that it was my duty to go along with him
as he might be taken worse and die before I could get down to see
him again, and I begged Her Majesty to allow me to go. She offered
all kinds of objections but eventually, seeing that I was bent on
going, she said: "Well, he is your father, and I suppose you want
to be with him, so you may go on the understanding that you return
to Court as soon as ever possible." We did not get away until the
middle of the eleventh moon, as Her Majesty insisted on making
clothes for us and other preparations for our journey. Of course
we could do nothing but await Her Majesty's pleasure.

When everything was ready Her Majesty referred to her book to
choose a suitable day for our departure, and fixed on the
thirteenth as being the best. We therefore left the Palace for our
own house on the twelfth. We kowtowed and said good-bye to Her
Majesty, thanking her for her many kindnesses during our stay with
her. Everybody cried, even Her Majesty. We then went to say
good-bye to the Emperor and Young Empress. The Emperor simply
shook hands and wished us "Good Luck" in English. Everybody
appeared sorry to see us leave. After standing about for a long
time Her Majesty said it was no use wasting any more time and that
we had better start. At the gate the head eunuch bade us good-bye
and we entered our carriage and drove to my father's house, our
own eunuchs accompanying us to the door. We found everything
prepared for our journey, and early the next morning we took train
to Tientsin where we just managed to catch the last steamer of the
season leaving for Shanghai. As it was, the water was so shallow
that we ran aground on the Taku bar.

On arrival in Shanghai my father immediately consulted his
physician who examined him and prescribed medicine. The trip
itself seemed to have done him a lot of good. I very soon began to
miss my life at Court, and, although I had many friends in
Shanghai and was invited to dinner parties and dances; still I did
not seem to be able to enjoy myself. Everything seemed different
to what I had been accustomed to in Peking and I simply longed for
the time when I should be able to return to Her Majesty. About two
weeks after our arrival, Her Majesty sent a special messenger down
to Shanghai to see how we were getting along. He brought us many
beautiful presents and also a lot of medicine for my father. We
were very glad to see him. He informed us that we were missed very
much at Court and advised us to return as soon as it was possible
for us to do so. As my father began to show signs of improvement
he suggested that there was no further need for me to stay in
Shanghai, and thought it better that I should return to Peking and
resume my duties at Court. I therefore returned early in the New
Year. The river was frozen and I had to travel by boat to
Chinwantao, from thence by rail to Peking. It was a most miserable
journey and I was very glad when it was over. Her Majesty had sent
my eunuchs to the station to meet me and I at once proceeded to
the Palace. On meeting Her Majesty we both cried again by way of
expressing our happiness. I informed her that my father was
progressing favorably and that I hoped to be able to remain with
her permanently.

I resumed my previous duties, but this time I had neither my
sister for a companion nor my mother to chat with and everything
appeared changed. Her Majesty was just the same, however, and
treated me most kindly. Still, I was not comfortable, and heartily
wished myself back again in Shanghai. I stayed at the Court, going
through pretty much the same daily routine as before until the
second moon (March 1905), when I received a telegram summoning me
to Shanghai as my father had become worse, and was in a critical
condition and wished to see me. I showed Her Majesty the telegram
and waited for her decision. She commenced by telling me that my
father was a very old man, and therefore his chances of recovery
were not so great as if he were younger, finally winding up by
telling me that I could go to him at once. I again wished
everybody good-bye, fully expecting to return very soon; but this
was not to be. I found my father in a very dangerous condition,
and after a lingering illness, he died on the 18th of December,
1905. Of course we went into mourning for one hundred days which
in itself prevented my returning to the Court.

While in Shanghai I made many new friends and acquaintances and
gradually began to realize that after all, the attractions of
Court life had not been able to eradicate the influences which had
been brought to bear upon me while in Europe. At heart I was a
foreigner, educated in a foreign country, and, having already met
my husband the matter was soon settled and I became an American
citizen. However, I often look back to the two years I spent at
the Court of Her Majesty, the Empress Dowager of China, the most
eventful and happiest days of my girlhood.

Although I was not able to do much towards influencing Her Majesty
in the matter of reform, I still hope to live to see the day when
China shall wake up and take her proper place among the nations of
the world.





End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Two Years in the Forbidden City